(BPT) - You've replaced your home's 20-year-old windows with new, Energy Star-rated models, upgraded to electricity-sipping appliances and there's not a single incandescent light bulb to be found anywhere in your house. You may be wondering what more you can do to further reduce your home energy bills.
When you've covered the basic and obvious ways to trim energy use at home, it's time to start thinking outside the fuse box. Here are three unique home improvements that can help make your house even more energy-efficient.
1. Put a stake through the heart of vampire power - Even when they're turned off, electrical devices draw power as long as they're plugged in. 'Vampire power' or 'standby power' refers to the electricity wasted in this manner. In developed countries, standby power probably accounts for 5 to 10 percent of residential energy use, according to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
Fortunately, vampire power is a relatively easy problem to solve. In many cases, simply unplug the power cord - a great solution for your cellphone charger or the coffee pot. When an appliance gets frequent use, however, constantly unplugging and replugging it may not be convenient. In those situations, a simple home improvement may be in order.
Connect outlets to wall switches that make it easy to turn the device off or on at the outlet. Or, you can plug appliances into a device that, in turn, plugs into the outlet and stops electricity leakage.
2. Add motorized shutters to windows - People add motorized rolling shutters to their homes for a variety of reasons, from enhancing privacy and security by making it harder for burglars to break in through windows, to protection against intense sunshine and hurricane winds. But did you know shutters can also boost your home's energy efficiency?
In winter, motorized shades or rolling shutters maximize insulation of windows - a significant point of heat loss in many homes. In summer, they can reduce heat gain, help maintain a more comfortable indoor temperature and protect furnishings from damaging UV rays. Automating motorized shutters with a sun sensor, like those available from Somfy Systems, allows you to further improve energy efficiency by raising or lowering shutters throughout the day to fine-tune heat retention.
And, for the truly eco-minded homeowner, Somfy's new solar powered AutoSun uses solar energy to power the shutter motor - so saving energy doesn't require you to use electricity. Learn more at www.somfysystems.com.
3. Open the door to energy savings - Your home's front door is the first impression visitors get when they arrive on your doorstep, but it's also a potential source of heat and energy loss. Replacing an old, inefficient or poorly insulated door with an Energy Star-qualified door can pay off with significant heat retention and energy savings.
When looking for a replacement door, insulated doors made of fiberglass or steel, filled with an insulating core such as polyurethane foam, are more energy-efficient than traditional wooden doors. Doors should also fit well into the doorframe, and use weather stripping to block drafts.
Doors wear out, lose efficiency and need to be replaced, according to the Residential Energy Services Network. Replace your old front door with an Energy Star-qualified one, and you may qualify for a federal tax credit of up to 30 percent of the cost of the door, according to EnergyStar.gov.
Improving your home's energy efficiency is the right thing to do - for both the environment and your wallet. With a bit of creativity and the right home improvements, it's possible to maximize your home's energy efficiency.