People make fun of millennials all the time for being entitled, but I think we are a thoughtful, considerate, and socially responsible generation. Take our purchasing habits, for instance. It’s not enough for us to just buy something – we want an experience. We want to learn, we want to create, and we want our money to make a positive difference. Often, this means making things ourselves—that’s why we’ve become the DIY generation.
I am proud DIY-er and always have been. While a lot of my DIYs tend to be more artistic, I recently got inspired to put together something more practical—a home energy saving kit full of goodies you can get at any hardware store and install yourself to reduce energy consumption and cost. Sure, I could have simply hopped online and bought one in the blink of an eye, but the advantage of making your own home energy saving kit is that you can personalize it to fit your home’s needs. As a bonus, you learn a lot about how much energy is actually wasted in your home, and how big of a difference a few products and changes can make. So without further ado, let’s look at what you need for your DIY home energy saving kit.
Energy Efficient Light Bulbs
LED light bulbs are an energy kit essential. If you are using regular old incandescent bulbs, LEDs are going to rock your world (and the world at large, because they reduce greenhouse gas emissions). With approximately 50 times the lifespan of an incandescent bulb, these light bulbs are worth the extra dollars. Think about it like this: if your LED bulbs were on for 8 hours a day, every day, they would last you 17 years! Aim to replace as many bulbs as you can with LEDs. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes to fit almost any socket.
CFL bulbs are still incredibly efficient compared to incandescent bulbs (10 times more efficient, in fact), but they aren’t as energy-saving as LEDs. They also only have a quarter to a fifth of the lifespan of LEDs. But CFLs are cheaper than LEDs, so if you’ve got a tight budget at the moment, these may be a better choice. When they do need replacing, just make sure you recycle them properly, as they contain small amounts mercury which isn’t good for the environment.
Gadgets and Gizmos to Reduce Water Consumption
Water aerators help you conserve water by forcing air into the water stream, increasing water pressure and providing a steadier stream while reducing overall water volume. As a result, they’re extremely effective at reducing the flow coming from your taps and minimizing the amount of water that needs to be heated, saving you tons of water and tons of money. These tiny little trinkets could reduce your water consumption by 40% and result in a savings of $110 annually.
Replace all of your aerators by removing the ones that are currently on your taps and bringing them to the store to make sure you purchase the correct size for a snug fit. When looking for new aerators (which can be found at any hardware store), be sure to buy ones with a water flow of 1.0 gallons per minute (gpm) or less for optimal efficiency. The best part? These babies cost less than $5 a pop.
Low Flow Showerhead
If you’ve got an old showerhead (one that has been around for more than 25 years), you need to include a new one in that kit of yours! A low flow showerhead can reduce your water consumption and cost by as much as 50%. Newer shower head models are typically relatively lower flow, but chances are you should still replace yours for an even more efficient model. Look for one that has no more than 2.0 gpm (bonus points if it is under!).
If you don’t know if your showerhead is low flow or not, you can check it with a nifty test. Simply run your water from the shower into an empty bucket for ten seconds. Then, measure the amount of water in the bucket in gallons. Multiply that number by six—this is your current gpm. If your gpm is over 2.5, swap it out.
Temperature Control Devices
Did you know that weather stripping your home could result in a 20% reduction in your heating and cooling bills? Better put some of that in your kit! After you check your windows and doors for leaks, simply measure the perimeters of any doors and windows that need sealing and add up your numbers to know how much you need. While there is a variety of weather strippers out there, the best cheap and cheerful option is weather-stripping tape. This will work well for both windows and doors and is easy to install.
Fridge and Freezer Thermometers
Your fridge and freezer use up more energy than any other appliance in your home. So when it’s even a few degrees off its target temperature, it’s wasting energy. Fridges should be between 35°F and 38°F for optimal energy consumption, and freezers should be at 0°F. To check the temperature, leave the thermometer in the fridge or freezer for 12 hours. If it is at too low of a temperature, adjust the setting. Do this once a month even if your fridge has a fancy built-in thermometer. Unfortunately, these don’t tend to be as accurate and don’t account for temperature discrepancies in different areas of the fridge.
You need at least one cool high-tech gadget in your kit, right? Smart thermostats allow you to monitor, change, and pre-plan your heating and cooling settings for optimal energy savings. They also learn your habits and adapt to your routines (e.g. heat up your bedroom ten minutes before you wake up) and can be controlled from afar with your smartphone. In terms of energy savings, smart thermostats have been shown to save 10-12% in heating costs and up to 15% in cooling costs, meaning that this gadget will likely pay for itself within two years.
Spread the Love for Energy Efficiency by Purchasing RECs
Putting together and installing your DIY energy saving kit is a huge step toward a cleaner, greener, more energy efficient world—but you don’t have to stop there. You can also change the way you source your energy so that the money you fork out for your energy bill every month will actually make a difference. Purchasing renewable energy credits (RECs) pumps energy from renewable resources like wind and solar into the grid to offset your consumption at home.
This is how it works: for every REC that you purchase, one megawatt hour (approximately one month of an average household’s electricity use) of clean, green energy is pumped into the grid. While RECs don’t guarantee that your home in particular is powered solely by renewables, you will be supporting the generation of renewable energy and a sustainable future while offsetting your own carbon emissions. Between that and your energy saving kit, you’ll be reducing your carbon footprint immensely. Ask for a green energy plan from your supplier, or switch to a third-party supplier that sells RECs and offers competitive rates.
At Liberty Power, we like DIYs as much as you do. That’s why we’ve created our own green energy plans and offer sustainable energy by offering RECs to our customers. To find out more about how we can help you reach your energy-saving, earth-loving goals, contact us today.