You might think reducing energy consumption only involves your kitchen, laundry room and whole-house air conditioning and heating systems, but when it comes to cutting back on energy usage, your entire home can get in on the act. An energy-efficient home not only benefits you personally by lowering your utility bills, it also helps the entire environment, making everyone’s life a little bit better. So when it’s time to look for easy ways to save energy, don’t forget to include your bedroom.
Start With the Thermostat
The fastest, easiest way to lower your monthly gas and electric bills is by lowering your thermostat setting in the winter and raising it in the summer. In most homes, around half of the energy used each month powers the air conditioner or the furnace. Even a few degrees up or down can make a noticeable change on your utility bills–but with advance planning, your bedroom will be just as comfortable as before.
In the winter, it’s easy–add a thick comforter or an extra blanket to your bed, and lower the thermostat before retiring for the night. Most modern homes have programmable thermostats, so set the controls to raise the temperature a few degrees shortly before your alarm clock goes off in the morning. You’ll sleep soundly and won’t have to face excessive chill upon rising.
In the summer, turn the air conditioner off at night and open your windows instead, if safety permits. Use a portable window fan, if necessary, to pull cooler outside air into your bedroom – you’ll stay comfortable while using far less electricity than it would take to run the AC. Another option is setting a portable oscillating fan near the bed to provide a cooling breeze throughout the night.
Check the Windows
If there are gaps around your bedroom windows, your money is slipping away along with the wasted energy. Older windows are especially likely to have gaps in caulk or weatherstripping, letting cold breezes creep in during the winter, and cooled air leak out during the summer. Check your windows annually, and re-caulk if necessary to seal any leaks.
If you are planning to upgrade your home’s energy efficiency, consider installing double-pane windows in place of old-fashioned single-pane glass. Double-pane windows create a natural layer of insulation, keeping the bedroom warmer in winter and cooler during the summer.
Finally, use curtains to help control your bedroom temperature throughout the year. When intense summer sunshine hits the windows during the day, close your blinds or curtains to keep out the heat. During the winter, keep them open on sunny days, but closed at night to keep the heat inside.
Clean the Ducts
Cleaning your home’s air ducts annually not only removes built-up dust and allergens, it also improves airflow and reduces stress on your heating and AC systems. And remember to change the filter in your furnace every few months – dirty filters are a common energy waster.
Change the Light Bulbs
Instead of energy-guzzling incandescent light bulbs, use LED bulbs in your bedside lamps and other bedroom lighting fixtures. LEDs use up to 75% less energy than old-fashioned bulbs. Compact fluorescent bulbs are another energy wise option. Though you’ll spend more for these bulbs initially, you’ll save over time in reduced energy costs. For additional savings, remember what your father always told you: turn off the lights when you leave the room.
It’s a small savings, but many small savings add up to a big impact. Instead of leaving your phone, laptop or tablet charger plugged in even when you aren’t actually charging the device, pull the plug until bedtime or whenever you power up your electronics. Chargers draw energy whenever they are plugged in, even if nothing is being charged.
Consider a Ceiling Fan
Not only do ceiling fans add a potent dose of interest to your bedroom décor, they also lower the air temperature an average of four to six degrees–and use far less electricity than your whole-house AC system. Most ceiling fans have a switch to reverse rotation during the winter– when the fan is circling in a clockwise direction it pulls warmer air down from the ceiling, keeping your bedroom comfortable without the need to turn on the heater.
Plant a Tree
It’s not a quick solution, but planting a deciduous tree outside your bedroom window not only eventually adds a peaceful view, it also blocks hot summer sunshine, yet lets winter light through. The result is comfortable indoor temperatures without running the AC or heater.