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13 Best Energy Efficient Items For Your Home

If you’re spending more time at home, you’ll probably experience an increase in energy consumption. And if you don’t notice it, the spike in your bills will be a not-so-friendly reminder that you’re using more electricity, gas, and water.

It’s important to stay healthy and sane during the quarantine. And we understand that you may be taking this time to create a gourmet kitchen or experiment with the best high end coffee makers and grinders since you’re no longer going to your favorite coffee shop every day.

However, just because you’re at home doesn’t mean your energy consumption has to increase. We found the best energy efficient items, and also asked a few experts to weigh in on ways to increase your energy efficiency.

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There are many places in your home where you can make changes to save energy. Below are just some of the relatively small changes that can have a huge impact in your efforts to create an energy efficient home.

Smart lighting 

According to Chip Wade, HGTV star and professional contractor, smart lighting devices are a great way to save energy. “These systems speak to each other and to your smartphone or device, allowing you to access them remotely no matter where you may be,” Wade tells Heavy. “With the ability to access everything on your phone and set preferences, you are more likely to set automatic timing for your lighting systems, turning the lights off or only having few lights on at a time.”

HVAC: thermostats, units, air ducts

According to Audrey Monell, president of Forrest Anderson Plumbing and Air Conditioning in Phoenix, AZ, the biggest energy-efficiency change you can make is to set your thermostat to 78 degrees. "While it can take a little adjusting to get used to a warmer temperature, you can save a lot of money by regulating your use of the A/C, especially during peak energy hours,” she says.

Wade recommends using smart thermostats.”They can be customized to your temperature preferences, and can automatically sense if you are away from the home and turn the temperature down to save money,” he says. “Most also have an app that allows you to remote change your system as well, so if you forget to turn down the thermostat before going out, you can do it remotely,” Wade explains.

The condition of your HVAC also contributes to energy efficiency, so be sure to check it occasionally. “Make sure all drainage tubes and venting pipes are secure, and not detached, and clean the area around the unit and the air vents regularly,” advises Anthony Perera, rounder of Air Pros USA. “Keep the area around the unit clutter-free, and make sure there isn’t any debris blocking the registers.”

He also recommends bi-annual tune-ups to ensure the unit runs efficiently and also to detect and handle any potential problems before they lead to an untimely breakdown.

And here’s another tip from Monell: “Despite what you may have heard, you should keep all the internal doors to bedrooms and offices open to let the air circulate,” she says. “The air ducts were designed to move air around the entire home, and closing doors not only changes the air flow, but also changes the air pressure, which can make A/C units work harder and cost more money in repairs."

In addition, Monell recommends investing in a few well-placed fans to keep air circulating so it feels cooler. “But make sure you turn them off when you leave the room to save electricity,” she says. You should also turn them off when you leave because fans cool people, not rooms.

Dishwashing tips

There are plenty of opportunities to save energy and water when washing dishes. “With only eight dishes per dishwasher load, you can save about 15 gallons of water compared to handwashing dishes, as well as energy and time,” says Morgan Brashear, P&G scientist and dishwashing expert.

She recommends using dishwashing detergents that don’t require pre-washing. “When multiplied by all dishwasher users that pre-wash, up to 150 billion gallons of water can be saved each year,” she tells Heavy.

Your dishwasher itself can also make a huge difference. “According to Energy Star, a new certified dishwasher will save, on average, 3,870 gallons of water over its lifetime. It can also be energy-efficient when using eco-mode according to the manual," Brashear explains.

Laundry tips

Save mechanical energy and money by skipping the spin cycle when washing small loads of delicate items,” advises Mary Johnson, P&G senior scientist and fabric care expert. She tells Heavy that you should never wring out delicate garments. “Instead, remove excess moisture before laying your garment flat to dry by shaping it flat on a thick, clean bath towel and rolling it up from the bottom, pressing out water as you go,” Johnson explains. “Depending on the size of the garment, you can also use your salad spinner to remove extra water—it’s gentler than your washing machine.”

If your laundry isn’t heavily soiled, she recommends using the Quick or Delicate Cycle instead. “Cycles run on Quick/Delicate use less mechanical energy while washing your clothes, resulting in fabrics that look and feel newer, for longer,” Johnson explains.

Another tip is to reduce the amount of suds in your washing machine. “If you have an HE machine, using a detergent with suds suppressors avoids the need for a second rinse, which not only saves you time, but also up to 10 gallons of water.”

On the other hand, Johnson says that 40% of laundry loads in HE machines are actually under-dosed with detergent.  “HE washing machines are double or more in size than a traditional top loader machine,” she says. “This increase in drum size has led to a misconception of load size amongst HE washing machine users.”  

Heating water in an electric kettle vs microwave

According to Energy.gov, it’s cheaper to heat water in an electric kettle than in a microwave. In tests conducted by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, using the Beverage setting on a microwave, it took four minutes to heat a cup of water. However, the electric kettle only took one minute and 30 seconds to heat the same quantity of water. (Note: if you tend to heat more water than you need in the kettle, you’ll nullify the savings.)

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