10 Affordable Ways to Improve Energy Efficiency at Home for $50 or Less
“Work smarter, not harder.” We’ve all heard the phrase before, but likely not in regards to your home’s energy consumption.
What is energy efficiency? It’s your home’s version of “working smarter” by continuing to do the same tasks with less power.
Creating an energy-efficient home requires a renewed focus on your energy consumption habits. Where, when, and how your energy is utilized determines whether or not you’re being you’re making the best use it. Energy efficiency is good for the environment and your wallet – so why don’t more people prioritize it?
The words “energy efficiency” may result in visions of dollar signs for some. While it’s true that certain fixes are more costly than others (such as replacing your roof), there are many affordable ways to improve energy efficiency at home—some for even $50 or less!
Affordable Fixes for Less Than $50
Below you’ll find ten energy efficient tips for your home that will result in increased energy efficiency, which ultimately leads to lower costs on your electric bill.
Look to LED Bulbs
If you haven’t heard, LED lights are the way to go. For $50, you can purchase several LED light bulbs that will replace your traditional bulbs, helping you create a more energy-efficient home.
LED lights work by emitting light in one specific direction. This eliminates the need for diffusers and reflectors, making the bulbs more efficient than their more traditional alternatives. LEDs use 75% less energy than incandescent lighting and last up to 25 times longer. 
These bulbs pack a major energy-saving punch while also coming in a variety of shapes, wattages, temperatures, and colors. You can express your personality while saving money and the environment—that’s a win-win if you ask us!
If you think you can insulate your entire house for under $50, you’re in for a rude awakening! Luckily for you, we have a sneaky way to cut back on your insulation costs while still getting the job done.
Head to your local hardware store and buy $50 worth of insulation. Then, head to your attic and look for exposed areas that lack insulation. Pay particular attention to the joists and the perimeter of your attic. If you have any remaining insulation, use that around the attic door. These two areas are traditionally the biggest culprits when it comes to hot or cold air escaping into your attic.
Insulation is key to making your home more energy efficient. Your thermostat works to maintain a specific temperature, but all of that work goes to waste if you don’t have sufficient insulation to keep the air inside the home.
Find the Holes
Piggybacking off our last point, we’re not quite finished chasing down holes where air can sneak through. Now that you’ve secured the attic with additional insulation, it’s time to target other problem areas.
Doors and windows may be causing your thermostat to work overtime. Air transfer forces your heating and cooling system to work more frequently through loss of heat (in the winter) or loss of cold air (in the summer).
Curtail this problem by fending off air transfer by caulking door frames and window panes. This caulk will plug all those small gaps and prevent air from entering or leaving the house. This will reduce the burden on your HVAC system make up for lost (or gained) temperature.
The best news is that this fix will cost you well below $50. All you need is a tube of caulk, a caulking gun, and a little time. Be sure to do this project when it’s sunny outside.
Darken the Drapes
Have you ever noticed that certain rooms in your house seem perpetually hotter than others? Or have you noticed you need to run the air longer in one room over another? Take notice of the sun’s impact on that room. If you’re looking to cool down a room without keeping the air conditioning running all day, consider purchasing blackout curtains.
These shades live up to their name – your room will be extremely dark after you install the shades. But plenty of people like to use these in their bedrooms to keep light out and help cool the room before bedtime.
What’s one of our favorite things about blackout shades? How affordable they are! You can get a pack of six shades for under $30. They come in a variety of materials and sizes—perfect for pairing with any size window.
Buy a Water Blanket
Before you skip over this step because it sounds a bit silly, hear us out. Your water heater’s job is to heat your home’s water supply. Every time you run the dishwasher, take a shower or choose to wash your whites in warm water—the water heater has to supply hot water.
Just as insulation helps your home retain its temperature, the water blanket does the same for your water heater. By helping the water heater maintain its heat, the blanket keeps the water heater from needing to run constantly in between—and during—jobs.
The blanket helps reduce heat loss, thereby using less energy, resulting in a lower power bill.
Keep Cool Indoors
We already mentioned blackout shades, but if complete and utter darkness isn’t your thing, there are still other options. Window adornments have been used for hundreds of years and not just for décor purposes.
While blinds and drapes can liven up a room, they also serve a more utilitarian purpose, which is to helpthe room cool.
Anything that can be put on your window to help block the sun’s rays will help reduce your need for air conditioning in the hot summer months. It also can help warm a room when you remove them during winter (you’d be surprised by just how warm a room can get on a sunny winter day).
One quick point of caution is that window adornments can get expensive fast. We recommend you start by checking sales to get a deal or DIY your own curtains with fabric from a fabric store.
Save with Shrubbery
In keeping with the shade theme, we want to share an energy-efficient idea that protects your home from the outside. First-story (and sometimes second-story) windows can often benefit from some external shade. For $50, you can find a tree, bush, or plant that can offer some significant shade from the sun.
Your wallet will thank you, and you’ll have more privacy from nosy neighbors.
Double the Duty
There’s nothing we love more than an energy saving tip that costs nothing. All this tip takes is for you to change your habits a bit. Now that you know that the water heater is in use anytime you do laundry or clean dishes, you should use this knowledge to your advantage.
Starting today, plan to do all hot water chores simultaneously. Wait to run the dishwasher until you have a full load of laundry that needs to be done. This way, your water heater only needs to run during these tasks.
We don’t realize how inefficient it is to stagger appliance runs throughout the day. By washing dishes and then waiting a few hours to take a warm shower, you’re forcing the water heater to run two separate times rather than taking advantage of when it’s already in use.
Change Air Filters
While not a fun or clever fix, changing your air filters shouldn’t be overlooked. Not only can dirty air filters become a fire hazard (think about all the hot air passing through the dusty vents), they also force your heating and cooling system to only work that much harder.
Regularly changing your air filters will minimize how hard your heating and cooling system needs to work and will keep your home safe from potential fire hazards.
Save with a Smart Thermostat
Since we’ve reached the last home energy efficiency tip on our list, we are bending the rules a bit on this one.
Smart thermostats will cost more than $50 to purchase. However, they save you so much money long run that we still think they earned a place on this list. Smart thermostats work because they help homeowners see the details of their energy usage patterns while also giving them the autonomy to customize their settings.
Smart thermostats help homes become more energy-efficient and make our lives just a bit easier. Now, you can check in on your home while at the office to see if you turned off the lights. You can also set your smart thermostat to remain one temperature during the day and different one at night.
Creating an energy-efficient home isn’t as complicated as you may have initially thought. There are a lot of ways where you can make a significant difference in your journey to becoming a more energy efficient home—all without needing shell out thousands of dollars.
If you’re interested in learning more about energy saving smart thermostats, check out the ecobee. This smart thermostat analyzes your energy usage while giving you full control of your home’s climate control.
Energy.gov. (n.d.) How Energy-Efficient Light Bulbs Compare with Traditional Incandescents. Retrieved from https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/save-electricity-and-fuel/lighting-choices-save-you-money/how-energy-efficient-light