Energy-Smart DIY: 40+ Tips And Tricks To Save On Costs And Safeguard Appliances

By Aayush G February 1, 2024

This article was originally published on mydiwise

Every appliance we use in our homes requires a decent amount of energy to run. Be it a small light bulb or an air conditioner, we ultimately pay for them to function and work well. Because energy bills have skyrocketed over the past couple of years due to people spending more time at home, they are constantly searching for ways to reduce electricity bills. If you are one of them, you have come to the right place.

We are here to help you solve this problem with some straightforward tips, tricks, and hacks to reduce your power costs to a minimum. Most of the tips you are about to see are pretty easy to follow and don’t require any external help, so you can do everything yourself. If you want to save your hard-earned cash, keep scrolling!

Switch to LED Bulbs

The easiest and the most efficient way you can save on your energy costs is by using LED Bulbs in your house instead of regular incandescent lighting. Doing this will save you a tremendous amount on your power costs.

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This is because LED Bulbs use 75% less energy as compared to regular incandescent bulbs. It is advised to replace every light in your home with LED’s, but if it is not economically possible, swap the most used ones first.

Use Smart Switches

Using these can save you tons on your monthly power bill while also making your home smarter! The way to do this is by configuring the smart switches with all of your lights. With this, you can control your lights remotely.

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If you use the one with the motion sensor functionality, then your lights can turn off as soon as you leave the room. You can also set them to turn off after a certain time so that you can keep yourself from leaving the lights on during the night.

Making Your Windows Air Tight

The other way to save on your heating bills is by sealing your windows (real ones) and making them air-tight. This technique is called “caulking” and can come very handy in the winter when heating the home is required the most.

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The way to do this is by first identifying where the windows are leaking the most. To find out, go to your windows on a windy day and see if you can feel the air. Next, seal them with the help of a caulking gun like you see in the photo.

Seal Your Attic

You may not know, but your roof is maybe covering a hole that is almost 2 feet deep in size, which is sucking out your expensive heated air. These are the holes around your attic, your light fixtures, or your plumbing.

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This task of sealing the attic may require external help, but if you are someone who likes to try new stuff or dive into a handy home project, then it won’t be a challenging repair for you. To do it, you can follow tutorials online that explain how exactly you seal the attic.

Invest in a High Tech Thermostat

If you have a two-stage furnace placed in your home, then getting a high-tech two-stage thermostat may be the ideal choice for you if you want to save on your power costs when it comes to heating your home in the long run.

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Doing this will keep your second-stage burner from starting at unnecessary times because that decreases the efficiency of your furnace to a much greater level. The high tech thermostat waits until it increases six to eight degrees per hour until it fires up the second stage.

Insulate Uninsulated Ducts

When talking about the insulation of attics and windows, we can’t forget the place that can be responsible for the loss of up to 30 percent of heated air; the ducts. The ducts are what transfer the heated air around the house.

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So, insulating them is a much-needed repair if you want to save on energy costs. You can do this one easily as your next DIY project. The recommended insulation would be the R-8 Duct Wrap which is readily available in your local stores.

Usage of “Less” Hot Water

The next way you can save big on electricity bills is by using what we call “less hot” water. You may not get this one in the first go, but it will all make much more sense in a minute.

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When you wash your clothes, you may use hot water for them, but what’s surprising is the machine takes less energy to function when the water temperature is set on high. So, you get the point. The work can be done in much less hot water with the same outcome.

Usage of Water Heater Timer

You know how sometimes you just forget to turn the water heater off, and then after a few hours, you realize and feel awful? Well, not anymore, as there are many devices available on the market that will set a timer in which the heater will operate.

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The way it works is you set up a time in which you use the heater the most, and then the device will automatically start the heater at that time, so you have hot water when you need it the most.

Replace Furnace Filters More Often

The residents who use furnaces in their homes often have a laid-back attitude when it comes to maintaining them. You should avoid this and take good care of them because they could cost you big bucks in the long run.

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Changing the furnace filters each month should be a habit, especially in winter when it’s used the most. This will make the furnace work much more efficiently and take less energy than what it would take if you just left them to sit.

Use Simple Clothesline

The people living in urban areas have a habit of doing the least amount of work possible, and this makes them pay the price for convenience. The use of electric clothes dryers is just another example of what can drive up energy costs.

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The dryer uses a hefty amount of power to operate and ends up making a hole in our pockets. Instead of this, you can use a simple clothesline for the task and it will cost you little to nothing to do this!

Try Using a Mini Split HVAC System

If you have a ventilating system with boilers and radiators or your duct system is asking for a replacement, you can switch to a Mini-Split HVAC System which is much more energy-efficient when you compare them to duct systems.

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This is because they work in mini zones instead of working through the whole house, hence they are more efficient. They also require less work to install as you don’t need to do any kind of duct-ing around the house. Instead, you just need to install a condenser and its units around the house.

Service the A/C

As we talked about the heating system and furnaces, air conditioners also require regular maintenance to be able to run at peak efficiency at all times. Air conditioners are easy to maintain compared to the furnace as they require only one service per year.

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These vital steps include lubricating the central motor system, straightening the bent-over fins, and replacing the ones which are broken. Also, cleaning and replacing the air filters play a big role in achieving efficiency and consistent airflow.

Identify the power suckers!

You will be shocked to know that according to the Department of Energy, all the different appliances in your house, like the DVD player or the coffeemaker, use 75 percent of their energy even when they are turned off.

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A big chunk of their energy usage comes when we aren’t even utilizing them! To save yourself, you can use a power strip in your house and turn it off after you’re finished to cut the supply. Or, you can simply plug out each appliance after you’re done with them.

Clean the Lint from the Duct

The next way to save money on energy bills is by cleaning the dryer vents since lint tends to get clogged up in them. Doing this will improve the efficiency of your dryers drastically which will eventually lead to less utility bills.

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If you clean the lint from the dryer regularly, it will also help you prevent hazards like a house fire because this is the reason for more than 25,000 fires that occurred in the span of last four years.

Draining the Water Heater

Another way you can save on energy bills is by draining your water heater regularly. The water heater is home to sedimentation, and professionals recommend cleaning it to avoid future problems by draining it thoroughly at least once a year.

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This is because if you don’t do this, your water heater will heat up an inch of sedimentation before it gets around to actually heating up the water. Hence, the efficiency of the water heater is compromised, and that’s not what you want to deal with or pay for.

Give a Shot to Smart Metering

If you want to take your savings game to the next level, you can opt for the all-new smart metering technology which will help you keep track of your electricity usage and control it. What’s great about this is some companies also pay you to opt for their smart meters.

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How cool is that?! The meter helps these companies keep the blackouts at a minimum, because when the grid is nearing its limit, the meters will turn off the major electricity-eating appliances in your home to avoid the situation of grid failure.

Dust Out the Refrigerator Coils

The next way to control the meter rolling is by cleaning the refrigerator coils, which are located at the back of the fridge. These coils are designed to vent out the excess heat from the compressor, making the refrigerator run more smoothly.

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When the fridge is clogged with dust and other things, it can’t to its work correctly, making the compressor work on more heat and pressure. This will not only hamper the efficiency of the fridge but can also result in compressor failure.

Seal Those Chimneys

If you have a chimney in your house that you haven’t used for years, then you can save yourself a couple of hundred bucks by sealing that air-sucking monster! Doing this will be easy and effective for your bills.

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To seal your chimney, you first need to get a thing called the chimney balloon. It is an inflatable, plastic piece that gets stuck between your chimney and seals it. All you need to do is inflate it with your mouth or any pump and push it upward in your chimney.

Cover your A/C’s

A window AC is used to cool the house in the summer, but the problem arises when it tries to cool it in the winters too! To solve this problem, you should resort to covering your window air conditioner unit.

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Covering the unit will help you prevent cold air from flowing through and around it. Covering the air conditioner will also help you maintain it because, in the winter, it can catch dust all around it, which you will have to clean eventually.

Insulate Your Walls

You might not think much about the difference simple wall insulation might make to your energy bills, but c’mon! Let us tell you that it could make the efficiency of your heating and cooling systems drop up to 25 percent.

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So, filling all the gaps and holes is essential in getting those numbers down. To do this, you can use fiberglass insulation. It is a very effective and easily available way to do the work. There are many online DIY tutorials if you want to try doing it yourself.

Give Weather-Stripping a Shot

The next way to stop that meter from rolling towards the sky is by sealing those doors that let cold air pass through them without you even noticing. To make sure that your door is not the culprit, follow this simple hack.

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When it’s nighttime, take a flashlight and go to the other side of the door and shine it through. If you can see the light pass, air will also accompany it. To seal it, you can use foam weather-stripping, which comes with a self-adhesive and is also easy to install.

Close an Unused Fireplace

One way or another, air will find a way to escape from your house. But we here today are on a mission to block all the exit routes! If you have a fireplace that was once a great help but is now just waiting to be used, then you can close it to save some energy.

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Fireplaces are basically big holes in your house which suck out the air you have inside only to transfer it into the atmosphere, so it’s better to close it. You have many ways to do this. You can make it permanent or just for the winter or summer.

Use the Winter Curtains

If sealing the windows is just too big of a process for you, or your windows require replacement, you can turn to these curtains, which are quilted. These will stop any kind of air from passing in between them.

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You can grab a pair at the local home center where they are popularly known as winter curtains. Installing them is also super easy, because all you need to do is take those old ones off of the curtain rod and install these new ones.

Filling the Gaps

The gaps and holes are a big reason for the loss of heated air you experience, and you probably know by now, it hampers the efficiency of the machine, and at the end of the day, it hampers your pocket because of the high electricity bill.

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Under the since is another popular place to find a gap in the plumbing or the holes in which pipes pass through. To seal them, you can spray expanding foam, which will take the shape of the gap and will sit there permanently.

Fill Those Electrical Switches

These switches are the way we consume the electricity, but as you guessed it, they also have gaps and can lead to air leakage. So sealing them will help in achieving our goal of maximum efficiency at minimum cost.

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All it takes is ten simple minutes of work to seal each of them, so why not! You need materials such as a caulk gun, aerosol foam, and caulk. To know about how to do it in detail, you can refer to simple tutorials available online.

Use Storm Windows

You may not know what storm windows are and how they help, but we assure you they are worthy of an upgrade. They are basically an extra layer of insulation made of glass or acrylic that can be installed on your existing single-pane windows.

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These will help to increase the life of your existing windows, as well as helping in decreasing the air leakage to a minimum. There are many kinds of storm windows available in the market, but we recommend you to get the low-e version.

Lowering the Thermostat

You may know it already, but turning down the heat in your thermostat will affect the outcome of your energy bills big time. According to the Department of Energy, you save one more percent on your bill for each degree you lower on the thermostat.

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But the general question regarding this is, how will we stay warm during winter if we lower the thermostat? The answer to this is by using a space heater in the room you use the most because it will be more efficient than the ducts.

Seal the Huge Holes Outside

The electricians and plumbers usually make a hole greater than required, so at the end, you get a partially filled opening attracting everything from insects to cold air in it. Sealing this will help you save your appliances and lower your energy bill.

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And at last, our sole motive today is to save money as much as we can. The holes are sometimes big enough for mice to come in and you know what could happen next. To seal it, you can use anything, and we recommend expanding foam.

Cover the Pipes With Insulation

This hack will not directly help you in saving on the bills but will affect your home in a positive way. The pipes which carry hot water to places like your kitchen or bathrooms are prone to losing a lot of heat on the way.

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To save that extra heat that your water heater worked hard for, you can opt to insulate these pipes. To insulate your exposed pipes, you can use the pipe sleeves which are readily available in home centers near you.

Try Investing in Instant Water Heaters

The water heater used in the average American home is usually one with a big tank that stores 40 to 50 gallons of hot water in it for one to use. The main disadvantage of this is it takes so much time and energy to heat that water.

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You can invest in a tankless or an instant water heater to counter this. The main benefit of this machine is that it heats the water only when you turn on the faucet which uses up to 50 percent less energy as compared to the traditional one.

Review the Temperature of Your Water Heater

If you can’t or don’t want to invest in an instant water heater, the least you can do is reduce the temperature on your water heater. Most times, it is set at a higher temperature than you actually need.

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And the strange part is we really don’t realize how hot we need our water to be, but the recommended temperature is 112 Fahrenheit or 45 degree Celsius. You can try to reduce it even more if you feel comfortable.

Let the Sun Come in

It’s not always necessary to fire up the heaters for warm air. There are many days when the sun rays shine bright in the winter, and you can use that to your advantage. During the peak of the day, don’t let the curtains stop them from shining in.

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Instead, open them and let the light in, which will help you to lay off the heater for a few hours. Doing this will help you regain and cherish the natural light and soak up some vitamin D. Your bills will also love the change!

Switch to Energy Star Products

The best way you can save on your energy bills is by switching your home appliances to the energy star rated alternatives. According to their website, people who switched to energy star-rated products have saved a collective 30 million dollars on their energy bills.

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Their products result in low energy consumption while delivering the same output as traditional appliances. If you switch to these, you will save a minimum of 30 percent on your current electricity bills annually! If you fit in, you can also enjoy incentives and tax benefits on your investment.

Change Habits

You can save more on your bills by changing your everyday habits. These include turning off the water while shaving your beard or brushing your teeth. Or, this could mean turning off the lights as soon as you leave the room.

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This will not only help you to reduce your electricity costs, but by doing this, you will also contribute to the environment by not wasting water or electricity. Hence, this one is a win-win situation for you to follow!

Dry Out Your Dishes in Open Air

Dishwashers are a great utility to help you wash the dishes quickly when you are short of time or just don’t want to invest in doing the dishes. But a small change in this process can help you save big in the long run.

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You can wash your plates and cutlery in the dishwasher itself, but when it comes time to dry them, you can just use the free air to your advantage and dry out your plates. This will help you to save the electricity you use when it’s time for the drying process.

Prefer Microwaves Over Ovens

Ovens are a great product to make all kinds of delicious cuisines. Dishes = like pizza or cookies taste best when you bake them in an oven. But the oven works on the mechanism of slow cooking the food.

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This is why it ends up using much more energy than a microwave. The microwave works much faster than the oven and does the job of heating up food in about 15 minutes. The oven requires almost an hour, so, you get the idea.

Switch to Laptops

Desktops are a great tool to do all the performance-centric work because they offer greater power and many options. But they fail to give better efficiency and end up using much more energy than a laptop. This is why many people opt for the latter.

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And this is why we recommend you using a laptop rather than a desktop “if possible.” This tip would not work for everyone but would be best for most. That’s because a laptop is a much more power-efficient device, and it will help you save on your bills.

Analyze Your Energy Usage

All of the tips we shared with you so far were based on how the average household lives and uses energy, but sometimes, the most significant energy hogs can vary from one person to another because everyone’s usage is different.

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So, we would recommend you to analyze your own energy usage and find out what appliances you use the most. That way, you would be able to work out things on a personalized level. You can take the help of the smart meters for this.

Compare Other Energy Providers

The tips we mentioned in the article will help you save big on your bills if you follow them correctly, but if you want to save even more, then you can keep a lookout and compare other energy providers in your area.

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After analyzing other energy providers, you will know if the amount you are paying for your power is appropriate to the market rate or not. If you find someone offering electricity at a lower rate than your current provider, then you can definitely switch to them.

Go Solar

The ultimate tip we can give to you to save on your energy bills is getting rooftop solar panels installed at your residence. By doing this, you will save a ton on your energy bills because you would be making and using your very own electricity.

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By using a green energy source like personalized solar panels, you will contribute to the environment while saving a ton of money. Solar energy allows your energy bills to plunge by choosing an off-the-grid system. How cool is that?!

Foam Pipe Insulation

Here is a bonus hack that will save you hours in your home. Have you ever finished doing your laundry, and then as you are folding everything neatly, you realize that you are missing a sock? Not a pair, just a solitary one. It’s always puzzling and infuriating.

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Usually, this happens when one of these tiny but essential clothes slips between the washer and dryer as you’re doing your laundry. To stop this from reoccurring, you can place a strip of foam pipe insulation between the machine and the wall. This will prevent any more mysterious disappearances.

Pool Noodle Hack

Who would have thought that the humble pool noodle would have so many uses? This next hack is especially useful if you live in an area that gets very cold in the winter and you constantly struggle with frozen pipes.

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If you don’t have the cash to pay for expensive insulation, then covering your copper pipes with a pool noodle is a great way to keep the frost at bay. It won’t beat professional insulation, but it is a cheap and easy solution if you are in a pinch.

Camp Lighting

Outdoor activities are always so much fun. But let’s face it, sometimes being comfortable outside can be a bit difficult. If you have ever gone camping, you know how important it is to have good lighting. One of the most popular options people go for is the bucket light.

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As you may have guessed, this is a simple lamp made using a bucket and some lamps that you can hang as long as you have a power source. They are easy to make, durable, flexible and easy to store as well. Plus, the light is always just enough to get everywhere without being overwhelming.

Power outage hack

Nothing puts you in an immediate state of frustration like an unexpected blackout. You have to rearrange so many things like cooking plans, lighting, heating and let’s not forget the food in the fridge! Compared to the others, lighting is usually relatively easy to handle.

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You can light candles, DIY lanterns, flashlights, and many others. Do you know those beautiful solar lights people love to set up outdoors for their yards? They can also be used as alternative lighting in case of a blackout. Just remember to recharge them as expected.