5 Energy-Efficient Home Improvements To Consider

Philadelphia townhome with blue shutters

Fall is the time to evaluate your home’s energy efficiency and make changes to shrink your carbon footprint, reduce climate change and lower your costs in the long run. Use the below guide as a checklist for home improvements to see what you can do to help Philadelphia reach its zero-waste goal.

Air Sealing

Reducing the amount of air that leaks in and out of your home or apartment is a cost-effective way to cut heating and cooling costs, improve durability, increase comfort, and create a healthier indoor environment. 

Caulking and weatherstripping windows and doors are two ways to lower your heating bill and prevent moisture from entering your living space. If you don’t want to go the DIY route, hire an energy assessor to test your home for airtightness. They will caulk and seal air leaks, not just in doors and windows, but also wherever plumbing or electrical wiring comes through walls, floors, and ceilings. They may also install foam gaskets behind the outlet and switch plates on the walls. While you’re at it, consider replacing single-pane windows with more energy-efficient double-pane windows.

For DIY tips on air-sealing, visit the Government’s Energy website.


Smart Thermostats

You probably already have a smartphone, smart speakers, and a smart security system. Now it’s time to use a smart thermostat that can be controlled from an app on your mobile phone. 

A smart thermostat allows you to change the temperature when you’re away from the home and schedule a warm welcome when you return. They also have sensors to send reports about your energy usage so you can know how much you are using. More importantly, they heat or cool your home more efficiently than regular thermostats and reduce your bills in the process.

Energy-Efficient Appliances

Top-rated appliance brands – Sub-Zero, LG, Frigidaire – now offer the Energy Star label on all home appliances, including refrigerators, freezers, dishwashers, ovens, etc. Energy Star products are more than 75% energy-efficient than other appliances, saving energy and money. 

Energy Star rated appliances saved homeowners over 14 billion dollars in 2006 alone, and reduced national fossil fuel emissions during that year by the equivalent of 25 million cars. As those numbers are bound to increase as technology advances, it’s clear that Energy Star appliances are a plus for the environment and your pocketbook at the same time. 

For example, an Energy Star refrigerator may cost from $500 to over $3,000. According to the National Resource Defense Council, energy efficiency standards have already saved American homeowners about $2,000 per household. Energy Star appliances reduce greenhouse gases, water consumption, and our reliance on fossil fuels.

No matter what brand of washing machine and dryer you own, you can use it more efficiently. Start by washing your clothes in cold water.  Always clean the lint out of the dryer filter after each use, and remember to dry heavy and light fabrics separately. Use the highest spin cycle on your washing machine which removes more moisture and reduces the time needed to dry clothing. If possible, invest in a front-loading washer that saves more water and energy than top-loading washers. Consider buying a high-efficiency washing machine designed to save water and require less detergent.

Improve your Insulation

If your home is not well-insulated, it will trap more heat in the summer, and lose heat in the winter. This will require you to spend more energy on heating and air conditioning. Today, there are sustainable alternatives to the pink fiberglass insulation that was common in the past.

Recycled denim insulation, also known as natural cotton fiber insulation, is high-performance insulation that’s made from scraps and clippings from the manufacture of denim clothing. Yes, from the same factories that made your favorite jeans. This insulation is suitable for residential use in the same places as fiberglass would be used—between open roof rafters, ceiling joists, and wall studs.

Recycled denim insulation offers many advantages over traditional fiberglass insulation. It is 100 percent recyclable, diverts waste from landfills, results in higher efficiency and lower energy bills, provides 30 percent more indoor acoustics insulation, contains no volatile compounds, and does not cause respiratory infections.

The only downside? Denim insulation may cost twice as much as fiberglass. However, the benefits of removing asthma- and allergy-triggering toxins from a home’s indoor air outweigh the increased expense.

Shop Zero Waste Products

Philadelphia now has a one-stop shop that stocks all the zero-waste products you need. Good Buy Supply, 1737 East Passyunk Avenue, is the first Philly retail shop dedicated to low-waste, plastic-free alternatives for your bathroom, kitchen, home, and garden. Visit their shop in person or peruse the online store.

If you’re typically an Amazon shopper, consider switching to The Rounds for your household staples. The Rounds is a local zero-waste refill and delivery service that provides sustainable supplies like dish soap, glass cleaner, and even toilet paper free of plastic waste.

Please join us in safeguarding the environment by conserving energy and taking small steps at home that contribute to reducing your carbon footprint to create a more sustainable city.

Interested in learning other ways you can help reduce your environmental footprint? Check out our article on Four Ways to Minimize your Waste Footprint in Philadelphia or our list on 5 Things Philly Renters can do for the Environment. If you’re a Solo tenant or owner and want to sign up for a special 2 month trial offer from Bennett Compost, please e-mail us!

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