8 Ways to Make Your Home Energy Efficient

Kalicia Bateman

Last Updated: November 11th, 2022

Infographic showing the main categories to make a home more energy efficient with the cost savings included in the text below

The average monthly utility bill for a homeowner totals $400, with approximately $115 accounting for energy use.

$115 per month may not sound like much, but let's do some math:

  • There are 12 months in a year — 115 x 12 = $1,380/year
  • Let's say you live in your home for 20 years — $1,380 x 20 = $27,600 over 20 years

That's a lot of money.

Imagine how much you could save by reducing your energy bill by even the smallest margin. Your extra savings could be used toward that new couch you've been eyeing, or put towards that big trip to Europe you've been wanting to go on.

Money aside, cutting back on your home energy use can reduce your greenhouse gas emissions, contributing to a greener and healthier planet.

There are ways you can make your home more energy efficient, and we've compiled a few options with a side-by-side comparison of costs and savings.

Note: All costs and savings outlined in this guide are approximations and can't be guaranteed. Upgrade costs will vary based on the location and size of your home. Tax credit information is also subject to change.

1. Add a solar panel system to your home

Solar panels are a great way to drastically reduce the home's monthly utility bill and carbon footprint. Depending on available federal and state incentives, adding a solar panel system to your home can effectively eliminate your electric bill altogether. 

All solar panel systems that are purchased and installed in 2022 qualify for the Federal Solar Tax Credit, worth 30 percent of the upfront costs.

Solar panel system

Panel Lifespan Average Savings Average Upfront Cost Total Lifetime Savings
25 years x $1,390 per year - $23,236 = $42,027

You can also add a solar battery to improve solar system efficiency. Solar batteries upgrade the solar system's efficiency by storing surplus energy that can be used at night or during emergencies.

The average cost of a solar battery is $10,599. 

Find Top-Rated Solar Companies Near You

If you are ready to explore energy saving with solar, check out the top solar companies by state to find a reliable option that services your area.

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2. Upgrade your home's exterior 

One of the most effective ways to conserve the energy used inside your house is to upgrade your home's exterior. A huge perk of upgraded elements like siding and roofing is their longevity: 20–40 years for siding and 10–25 years for roofing. This is a great way to make your home more energy efficient if you've moved into an older home. 

  Cost Savings
Siding $4,300-$16,000 $1,440 per year
Roofing $5,500-$11,000 $960 per year

3. Install or improve insulation

Installing insulation is a more effective way to reduce your energy bills. Insulation acts as a barrier, keeping the heat in your home during the winter and keeping cool air in during the summer.

Ideally, you should insulate your home from top to foundation, but insulating your attic and ductwork is an effective place to start.

  Cost Savings
Attic Insulation $1,500–$3,500 $414 per year
Ductwork Insulation $1,000–$5,000 $276 per year

4. Upgrade HVAC systems

Heating and cooling account for the largest costs on your monthly utility bill. Replacing your furnace and AC filters are an easy way to ensure that things are running efficiently.

  Cost Savings
Replace Furnace Filter $40–$200 $207 per year
Replace Air Conditioning Filter $70–$100 No conclusive data
Install Smart Thermostat $300–$1,000 $200 per year

5. Replace old doors and windows

Door and window replacement, while more costly than some other home upgrades, can significantly improve your home's overall energy efficiency.

In addition to raising the comfort level, new doors and windows can also boost your home's security and curb appeal.

  Cost Savings
New Energy-Efficient Doors $732–$2,070 Up to $483 per year
New Energy-Efficient Windows $325–$785 $126–$465 per year

6. Upgrade and replace lighting 

Lighting accounts for approximately 15 percent of your energy bill. One of the fastest ways to cut your energy bill is by switching to LED lightbulbs.

  Cost Savings
Upgrade to LED Lightbulbs $5–$20 $225 per year
Upgrade to Light Dimmers $100–$200 No conclusive data
Upgrade to Smart Outlets $25–$50 No conclusive data

6. Upgrade water heater, faucet, and showerheads

Water heating accounts for the second largest amount of your monthly energy bill. Cut your costs and install low-flow fixtures to save money and water.

  Cost Savings
Upgrade Your Water Heater $500–$1,800 $70–$80 per year
Install Low-Flow Faucets $10–$100 $50–$90 per year
Replace Showerheads $8–$50 $50–$90 per year

7. Upgrade to Energy Star appliances 

Appliances like your fridge run day and night and can take use a lot of energy. Look for the ENERGY STAR® logo on appliances to save more energy. 

  Cost Savings
Energy Star® Refrigerator $1,500–$4,000 $220+ per year
Energy Star® Dishwasher $500–$900 $130 per year
Energy Star® Washer and Dryer $600–$1,500 $370+ per year

8. Implement everyday energy saving habits 

Developing more energy-saving habits can help you reduce your electricity bill. While we don't have an estimate of how much you can save, these tips have been proven to save energy.

  • Unplug large electronics when not in use; even if your electronics aren't on, they are still drawing energy while plugged in.
  • Turn off lights when you leave a room or the house. 
  • Get a space heater instead of turning on the house heater.
  • Air dry dishes. Even if you have a dishwasher, choose not to run it sometimes. Instead, use it as a drying rack.
  • Seal holes around outlets; air can enter through the tiniest cracks.

The bottom line

Knowing where to start in your home energy efficiency upgrade journey can be overwhelming. There are a lot of options, and initial upgrade costs can be high. The best place to start is by getting a home energy assessment to see exactly where you’re spending the most money on your home energy bills.

If the initial costs are intimidating, it is important to keep in mind that you will ultimately save more money over time by investing in upgrades. But, sometimes a good place to start can also be with the little things: being more mindful of turning off lights, limiting the use of central heating, taking shorter showers, etc.

Whether or not you’re looking to save money, save the environment, or a mix of both, reevaluating how you’re using energy can help you achieve both.

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