Ways to improve the energy efficiency of your home. Image: Franck Boston Shutterstock
The best thing is that you let yourself be guided by the following principle: start with those interventions that cost little and produce more. It is often the cheapest and simplest solution that gives you the biggest cut on your energy or water bills. So with the money saved month after month, you can tackle more ambitious projects.
- To get started, collect your gas and electric bills for the last 12 months. Make the sum and divide it by the square meters of the surface of your house, excluding the areas of rooms without heating (basements…). The average cost amounts to 10 – 25 euros per square meter per year. If your spending is in this segment or higher, you have many opportunities to significantly reduce your bills.
- Measure the thickness of the thermal insulation of the walls and ceiling of your house. Evaluate the age of your heating system and its condition, evaluate your windows and check if the water heater has sufficient thermal insulation. How do you feel at home? Does the air penetrate on windy days? You feel comfortable?
- Ask for help. Many energy agencies in your city and online, as well as consumer associations, offer free information brochures and addresses of professionals who can help us. In some countries, there are organizations that offer free or reduced-price insulating layers for boilers, energy-efficient showers, and energy-efficient LED lamps. There are also financial incentives for the purchase of solar collectors, high-efficiency boilers, heat pumps, and photovoltaic systems. There are also services that perform an energy check of your home and advise you on the steps to follow. Some professionals in the sector carry out this control at low cost.
- Make a plan of action. That list of possible actions is a useful tool to get you started.
Actions that cost nothing, but help save money.
- Set the thermostat of the hot water thermos to 35 ° C.
- Turn off the light when you leave a room.
- In winter, set the radiator thermostats to 20 ° C when you are home and 12 ° C when you go to bed. If your device has the option, program it.
- Use the savings programs of your washing machine and dishwasher.
- Do not contaminate the water (hot and cold), neither at home nor outside.
- Clean the condenser radiators in your refrigerator at least once a year.
- Dry your clothes in the air and not in the dryer.
- Close the ventilation openings in unused areas.
- Repair leaking faucets and cisterns (5% of water consumption in the home is due to leaks).
- Close the blinds (and windows) in summer on very hot days and at dusk in winter.
- Check all taps and cisterns regularly. A continuously leaking tap can lose up to 2000 liters of water per year. A faulty cistern can lose up to 6 liters per hour, or 52,000 liters per year.
Simple and cheap actions with recoverable expenses in less than a year.
- Install a new shower head that delivers only 5 liters per minute, so you can save up to 50% of the water.
- Put energy-saving nozzles on kitchen and bathroom faucets. These vents add air to the water and reduce water consumption by 30-50%.
- For showers, there are “quick disconnect” taps that instantly cut off the water supply. Its use allows a saving of approximately 50%.
- Install a programmable thermostat in the heating system.
- Close all larger openings in the ceiling and basement and replace any broken window glass.
- Clean the filters of the system that provides you with warm air in winter and the air conditioning system in summer.
- Install foil-covered cork panels behind radiators.
- Insulate the first meter of the hot and cold (incoming) water pipes with a thermal insulation strip.
- Install LED bulbs where the light stays on the longest.
Investments of up to 500 euros that are recovered in a period of 1 to 3 years.
- Order a complete ventilation and insulation tech report for your home.
- Seal and waterproof all cracks identified by the report.
- Start with the roof and basement (especially where pipes and cables enter the home and around foundation connections), then waterproof windows and doors.
- Seal and insulate the air heating (and cooling) system ducts.
- Install the washing systems with a saving button. Using this button reduces the discharge from the normal 9-15 liters to just 3-4 liters. The water saving is up to 50%.
- Install mixer taps that mix hot and cold water. Compared to two separate taps for hot and cold water, these taps save a lot of water because they do not require continuous temperature correction.
- Have your heating (and air conditioning) systems checked every two years.
- Replace your old washing machines and dishwashers with new ones that are energy and water efficient.
- Install insulating screens in front of windows or new windows with insulating glass or, in southern climates, windows with IR (infrared) glass or with solar input film applied to the windows.)
- Insulate hot water pipes in unheated basement and in floor cavities.
Investments that save a lot of energy and pay for itself in 3 and 15 years.
Insulate the unheated basement ceiling with heat-insulating panels. In a heated basement, it is better to thermally insulate the perimeter walls from the inside. This thermal insulation is not necessary in hot climates.
- Improve the thermal insulation of your roof. This is convenient in both hot and cold climates, as it prevents the house from overheating.
- Improve the thermal insulation of the perimeter walls. The intervention is more expensive, but it is better if the house consumes a lot of energy for heating.
- Install LEDs everywhere, even outside.
- Install a timer to regulate the on and off of the lamps outside.
- Install a solar collector (on the roof or terrace) that produces hot water and, in many cases, can also be used for heating in winter.
- Modernize the boiler, heater, air conditioning and replace the refrigerator with one of the most efficient and modern models. Technology often helps save costs, and if you have a system to replace, it’s worth it in any case. If you have a well-insulated and waterproofed home, you no longer need such a powerful heating and air conditioning system.
- Replace old toilet tanks with modern ones that save 50% to 80% of water.
- Install mobile screens in front of windows to avoid overheating in summer.
- Collect and use rainwater. With rainwater you can water the garden and orchard, clean the house and wash the car. Well filtered and purified, it can even be used in the pool, bath and shower. Rainwater can replace approximately 50% of the drinking water normally used in the home.
- Plant a tree to shade the largest window on the west side of your home in summer. You don’t save a lot of money immediately, but you do get a higher ecological quality.