10 Upgrades that can improve your home and energy bills


According to the US Department of Energy, the average household spends $2200 every year in utility bills. This is just an estimate as some households spend more depending on factors such as the size of the family, climate, number of appliances, and number of residents.


Improving a home’s energy efficiency not only saves you money but also enhances a home’s indoor comfort. A report by the US Department of Energy revealed that most of a home’s energy is lost through inefficient heating and cooling systems, leaky windows or ducts, and old appliances. Upgrading these features goes a long way in saving on energy bills.  Remember if you need help finding a good handyman or contractor to help you with installation feel free to check out 7 steps to finding a good handyman. The text highlights essential upgrades to help you save on utility bills.

Switch to LED Lighting

According to the Energy Department, the widespread use of LED lighting is predicted to save 348 TWh of electricity by 2027. This is equivalent to $30 billion in monetary form and an annual output of 44 large electric power plants.

Look for ENERGY STAR rated lighting as it uses 75% less energy than regular lighting. This is because LEDs emit little heat compared to their counterparts, which release 90% of the energy as heat. LEDs also have a longer life, usually, 25 times longer, which saves you cash in buying replacement bulbs.

Seal Air Leaks

Air leaks let in hot air during warm months and cold air during winter, causing the HVAC system to work harder when warming or cooling a home. Weatherstripping and caulking are two simple and cost-effective ways of sealing such leakages hence saving on energy.

Caulk is used to seal openings and cracks between stationary house walls like window and door frames while weatherstripping seals doors and operable windows. Duct systems are also likely to develop leakages, primarily if they have been used for a long time. Homeowners should consider installing a new duct system equipped with insulation.

Department of Energy

Maintain HVAC System

Proper maintenance of an HVAC system saves energy and extends the life of the equipment. According to the Energy Department, effective maintenance of HVAC saves energy by 5-40%, depending on the type of equipment used. A professional should conduct thorough maintenance procedures by examining all the components of an HVAC system, including the chiller water cooling and chilled circulation system, the central water plant, and the air cooling and circulation system.

Use a Tankless Water System

Water heating accounts for 18% of a household’s utility bill. The most effective way to save energy consumed through water heating systems is to install a tankless water system. The system provides hot water as the need arises. Thus does not need a storage tank. When a hot water tap is turned on, cold water travels to the heating unit to deliver a constant supply of hot water.


Install Solar Panels

According to energy.gov a house with solar panels reduces water heating bills by 50-80%. While the initial investment is high, they provide long-term savings in energy bills. If building a new home or refinancing, including the price of a solar water heater in your mortgage ranges from $13-$20 per month.

Fortunately, the government provides a tax deduction of $3-$4 per month for mortgage interest attributable to the solar system. Thus, if your fuel savings are more than $15 every month, installing a solar system makes a profitable investment.

Duct systemsUpgrade to a Programmable Thermostat

The HVAC system consumes the most energy compared to any other appliance in a household. What’s more, most of this energy is lost to heating and cooling unoccupied spaces. Upgrading to a programmable thermostat helps save energy by 10-30%.

The premise for installing a programmable thermostat is to enable homeowners to reduce energy use when sleeping or away from home. The device has a pre-set schedule for turning on the heat or air-conditioning, so it’s only switched on when you need it.

Install Double-paned Windows

Windows account for 10-25% of a home’s heating bill hence the need to replace single-pane windows with energy-efficient double or triple-pane windows. Ensure they are made of high-performance glass in the form of spectral selective coatings to reduce heat gain, especially during warm climates. During winter, gas-filled windows with Low-E coatings minimize loss of heat. Here are more window tips to help save energy:

During Cold Weather

  • Use heavy-duty, transparent plastic sheet on the inside of the window frames to minimize drafts


  • Install insulating window shades after weatherizing


  • Install storm windows to reduce the loss of heat


During Warm Weather


  • Install awnings on the west and south-facing windows


  • Install white draping, blinds or window shades to reflect heat away from the house


  • Install south-facing windows to minimize the amount of heat entering your home

Replace Air Filters

According to the Department of Energy, replacing dirty filters with clean ones minimize energy consumption by 15%. Professionals recommend replacing them once every three months to realize energy savings.

Dirty filters also affect the health of an HVAC system. The filter gets extremely clogged causing resistance in the flow of air to the system, which makes the air conditioning unit work harder to cool or heat the space. As such, replacing air filters not only save on energy but also helps the HVAC function more efficiently.

Unplug Electronics

Plugged electrical appliances bleed standby energy, also known as phantom electricity. Even when switched off, the devices keep on drawing power. The Department of Energy estimates a loss of 5-8% of energy annually caused by unplugged appliances. As such, unplugging appliances after use goes a long way in reducing energy bills. Alternatively, you can use power strips to help shut off electronics automatically.

Air-dry Clothing

Air-drying laundry reduces the average electricity consumption from $2.50 to $1.85. Research shows if people line-dried clothing for six months, it would save 3.3% of a country’s residential output of carbon dioxide.


Reducing energy bills saves cash and minimizes the carbon footprint. Knowing the average utility cost helps determine appliances that need upgrading to save on energy. These are upgrades increase the value of home too.


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