Here are five earth-friendly projects—both large and smallto increase the
energy efficiency of your home this winter.

1. Use energy-saving appliances. Refrigerators, freezers, dishwashers,
furnaces, heat pumps, air conditioning units and water heaters all have high-
efficiency models. Before buying a new appliance, compare labels to find one
that uses the least amount of energy and water with the lowest operating
costs. Appliances with the Energy Star label are up to 50 percent more
efficient than standard models, saving you up to 30 percent on your electric

2. Mind the gaps. By sealing gaps and leakages around your home, you’ll
keep warm air in and cold air out, ensuring a lower energy bill and less
waste. Some of the worst air leakage areas in the average home are exterior
wall outlets, the soleplate, the duct system, exterior windows and doors, and
fireplaces. Use storm windows, which can reduce heat loss by 25 to 50 percent,
and storm doors. Add weatherstripping and caulking around doors and windows,
including attic entryways. Install door sweeps to inside doors adjacent to the
garage and the outside. Stop cold air infiltration from electric outlets and
switches by using draft blockers. Add caulk around foundation walls, pipe
outlets, clothes dryer vents, exterior faucets and any other gaps on the
outside of your house. Use it around baseboards and where walls meet other
walls or the ceiling or floor.
3. Turn it off. In a typical residential utility bill, lighting accounts
for 15 percent and electronics for over 25 percent of usage. The simple
things will get you the biggest savings on utility costs. It’s just like Mom said:
turn off the light when you leave the room! Gadgets like MP3 players and cell phones draw electricity even when not connected, so they should be unplugged once charged. Nowadays we have tons of chargers in our lives that sap power in small amounts that add up to big bills,mso it makes sense to monitor them and end the waste. Anything with a standby light, like a TV, should be plugged into a power strip and shut down when not in use. And make sure to activate the “sleep” feature of equipment so it automatically powers down.

4. Pick the right light. Compact florescent lighting, or CFLs, are safer,
use 70 percent less electricity, produce as much light and last up to 15 times
longer than incandescent bulbs.

5. Insulate. More than half the energy used for heating is lost through
walls, floors, ceilings and attics that are not insulated. With spray foam
insulation, liquid polyurethane is pumped through pressurized spray nozzles
and expands on surfaces to form an insulating barrier. Unlike traditional
insulating materials, spray foam insulation can seal tiny cracks and seams you
can’t even see. If you’re in an old house with inadequate levels of
insulation in the attic you should really consider a spray-up job.
It’s safe and economical and probably the most efficient insulation you can
get for a remodel.

Credit: Renovate with Tommy Mac