We are spending more time than ever at home. The silver lining is we have time to address some of those home improvement projects we had on the back-burner to help make our homes healthier, efficient, and comfortable. It also will help us save extra money on our utility bills.
1. Change out light bulbs to support a 100% LED household. This easy, low-cost improvement can save up to five times on your lighting costs to help offset some of those extra hours we are now using lights at home. It can also be turned into a fun scavenger hunt for the family.
What you’ll need: pen and paper or your phone to to track the types of bulbs that need replacing, & replacement bulbs.
Go through each room of the house. If you see any bulbs that have the wire within, or a reading of 60-100 watts on the outside of the glass, it is an incandescent bulb. Take note of the shape, location, and brightness of the bulb you’d prefer to replace it with. Once you’ve completed the inventory, place the order and get to replacing those wasteful bulbs! Helpful link: Lighting Buying Guide
Wondering what to do with your incandescent bulbs? There are some fun up-cycling projects out there. Our favorite is turning an old bulb into a air plant terrarium.
2. Improve the flow of your faucets. This is another easy, low-cost project that can save you water, energy, and money. Efficient-flow aerators restricts the flow of water from a faucet and can save up to 30% of your household water usage.
Check each of your faucets for the current water flow. The standard flow is typically 2.2 gallons per minute (gpm). If you cannot read the aerator, you can also test it by running your faucet for 30 seconds. If more than a gallon of water is captured, a replacement aerator is recommended. Replace aerators with 1.0 gpm for bathroom faucets, and 1.5 gpm for kitchen faucets. It’s recommended to purchase aerators with the WaterSense logo.
What you’ll need: wrench, plumbing tape (often included with the aerator kit), and aerators ($1-5/each).
3. Improve the flow of your showers. We’re on a roll with saving water, and while we’re in the bathroom let’s improve our showers too. The current national energy policy requires new showers to have a maximum of 2.5 gpm installed, however, older models could have as much as 5 gpm flow. Check your shower heads for the flow rate. If you can’t see it, capture the water for 30 seconds. If it’s more than one gallons, make note of the hook-up style of your showerhead and order yourself one with a WaterSense label. They come in all different colors and styles to match the look and feel of your bathroom.
What you’ll need: wrench, plumbing tape, WaterSense showerhead(s)
4. Install / Check on Your CO Monitor – Because we’re spending more time in the home than ever, and probably cooking a lot more, it is a good idea to have a CO monitor that gives ppm readings. This means, you can track the levels of low-exposure carbon monoxide in addition to it just alerting you when there is an alarming amount present. Keep one next to your gas appliances, like your stove, and make sure the battery is working.
What you’ll need: (possibly) replacement batteries, CO monitor
5. Hot water pipe insulation – Insulating your hot water pipes reduces heat loss and can maintain temperature 2-4 degrees higher than un-insulated pipes. Energy.gov has a great how-to on how to do this project. It requires a little more time than the other projects on the list, but will help save energy on water heating and water (because less time spent waiting for the hot water to reach the faucet.
What you’ll need: tape measure, pipe sleeves, box cutter or scissors, cable ties or tape to secure the pipe sleeves.