Energy Conservation and Energy Efficiency are interchangeable words, Right?? but it is not. People often confuse between Energy Efficiency and Energy Conservation. Energy Efficiency uses new technology to produce the same result, but the end goal is to use less energy to produce the same result. Energy conservation is a learned behavior that results in the use of less energy. Turning off the fans when you leave the room means you’re using the principles of Energy Conservation. Whereas using LED Light Bulbs to produce the same amount of light as a regular light bulb is energy-efficient. Energy conservation is a new concept in the American Lingo, and it means to conserve energy or use less energy.
Here are the 19 of the most efficient tips that help in Energy Conservation for a residential home. Some of the tips I have tried out in my house, and a few of my colleagues have tried a few outers as well. It looks like almost all I recommended in the list below is a good fit for any residential home.
I’ve been in residential solar space for ten years, and I have a deep electrical engineering background. Armed with that knowledge, I’ve researched energy conservation topics and can simplify technical knowledge into something more understandable and readable. Thus, it makes complete sense to the layman who will help them with their Energy conservation plans and help save money on their utility bills.
Here is the list of 19 energy conservation I’ve learned and applied in my home.
- Energy Conservation – Introduction
- Phantom Load
- Time Base Electricity Rates
- Use dimmer switches or timers on lights.
- LED Bulbs or Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs
- Update Appliances to Energy Star Products
- Turning down the Manual Thermostat
- Programmable Thermostat
- Weather Stripping
- Insulating Window Treatment
- Heat pumps
- Insulating Blanket For Water Heater
- Reduce Dryer Usage
- Tune up your heating and cooling (HVAC) system
- Use Task Lighting
- Green Roofs
- Switch to Solar Power
- Passive Solar Heating and Cooling
Some of the tips I’ve recommended below may not be applicable for certain regions, as they may have to do with weather conditions or utility providers. Please check with your utility regarding solar power, heat pumps, programmable thermostats, and time-based electricity.
Energy Conservation – Introduction
Ensuring your home is as energy efficient as possible helps ensure that your solar panels generate the maximum benefit for you. The analogy is like pouring water into a bucket with a giant hole at the bottom. You want to make sure your home doesn’t have a giant energy hole sucking away the benefits you’re getting from solar. As can be seen, the largest energy usage lies in heating, and many of our tips have to do with keeping the heat in.
1. Phantom Load
Phantom Loads are electricity loads that are produced by your electrical appliances when they are in standby and idle mode. They are otherwise known as Vampire Loads. Most of these loads are generally small and have negligible cost on your usage. But when you start adding up energy usage from various appliances, they can significantly impact your usage. One of the recommended methods is by turning off all lights at night and looking for any LEDs, indicating phantom load. You can reduce your Phantom Load by the following.
· Unplug the electrical appliances that are not in use in general,
· Use KillaWatt to monitor phantom loads and detect their usage.
· Use Energy Star Appliances when replacing your existing appliances. One, because they use power efficiently, and second, they also use less power in standby mode.
The insulation you can buy from any home improvement store
The Department of Energy estimates that a properly insulated attic can reduce by 10 to 50 percent of your heating and cooling bills. It keeps your house temperatures in check in summer, and it works the opposite way for warm climates. In summer, it helps to stabilize your house’s indoor temps to keep cooling needs in check, and in winter, it’s the other way around. Insulation comes in 4 types Rolls and batts, loose-fill, rigid foam, and foam in place.
· Rolls and batts or blanket insulation are made from fiberglass, mineral wool, and they come in different sizes. Batts are pieces of blanket insulation pre-cut to manageable sizes: 15-24 inches wide by 48 or 93 inches long. Rolls are strips of insulation similar in width to rolls but much longer (25, 32, or 48 feet, for example).
· Loose Fill Insulation – They are usually made of cellulose or fiberglass in tiny pieces and are also known as blown-in insulation. That’s because it’s blown into the attic spaces using special pneumatic equipment. Fibers blown into tight corners and fill spaces like the odd-sized building cavities and attics with wires, ducts, and pipes.
· Rigid foam insulation – This is a type of insulation used on walls, roofs, and foundations, and it is suitable for retrofits and new construction. All foam insulation products are petroleum-derived. The rigid foam insulation is stronger and does not shift out of place after installation. It is used in crawlspaces and basements because of its resistance to water and pests. It can also serve as an air barrier if the boards are properly sealed along the edges and joints. Another benefit of it is its versatility. Expanded polystyrene (EPS), Extruded polystyrene (XPS), Polyisocyanurate (polyiso) are examples of Rigid foam.
3. Time Base Electricity Rates
Utilities have been encouraging customers to use electricity in off-peak hours to reduce their peak power demands. E.g., running your dishwasher during evening hours or using your dishwasher during odd hours. The exact hours and the premium you pay for electricity will be based on the utility company. Broadly speaking, peak hours start sometime in the afternoon and goes into dusk. That is when people are returning home after a day of work and using more lights and appliances. These rates vary from the utility, so it’s ideal to speak to customer service to ask them specifically if these rates are available and applicable. These programs are designed to pass on the savings to you through customer rebates or discounts on electricity rates.
4. Use dimmer switches or timers on lights.
Dimmers are devices attached as part of your light switches. Dimmers adjust the brightness levels and vary up the lighting moods in the room. This helps save energy by reducing the flow of electricity to the bulb, which allows the lights to operate at lower power outputs. As a result of this, the light output generated by the bulb is under less duress, and hence it extends the life of your light bulbs. Savings: 7‐10 percent of lighting costs. (EM)
5. LED Bulbs or Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs
Incandescent light bulbs are being phased out, and the US wouldn’t be manufacturing any such light bulbs after 2025. Fluorescent bulbs last four to 10 times longer than regular light bulbs. Another option is going with the more expensive but even longer-lasting LED bulb. If you enjoy a directional light for reading, cooking, or working at home, you might prefer the LED bulbs. For general home lighting, such as illuminating a room, CFL might be best. 
6. Update Appliances to Energy Star Products
When shopping for appliances, realize that there are two price tags. The first is the purchase price, while the second is the cost of operating the appliance during its lifetime. Energy Star-rated appliances, including refrigerators, dishwashers, washers, and dryers, are much more energy-efficient than models that meet the minimum federal standards for energy efficiency. For instance, Energy Star refrigerators are 20% more efficient than non-qualified models. Fridges with freezers on top use 10 – 25% less energy than side or bottom-mounted units. Energy Star dishwashers use less than 5.8 gallons of water per cycle, while older models before 1994 can use as much as 10 gallons per cycle.
7. Turning down the Manual Thermostat
One of the easiest ways to reduce electricity usage is by turning up your thermostat—78 degrees F during summer or lowering your 62 degrees F during winter. You will see instant savings in your electricity usage if you follow that principle. Also, read more about our programmable thermostat as an option if you’ve one or plan to buy one.
8. Programmable Thermostat
Programmable thermostats have become popular due to their energy- and money-saving benefits. A Programmable Thermostat can adjust the home heating and cooling schedule based on a pre-set schedule. This device can save users up to 10% on your home heating and Cooling cost per year when used. And it’s generally more accurate than a regular thermostat, according to the Department of Energy website, Energy.gov.
9. Weather Stripping
You might be surprised to find how much money you could save by patching up your windows and doors. According to Energy Star, air leaks account for 30 to 40 percent of heating and cooling loss in homes that haven’t been weather-stripped. Patching down those doors and windows will save you money, around 10-15 % on your electricity bills while keeping you warm. There might be few options out there in the market that might help you in the short term. 
Door Sweeps are made of flat pieces of plastic, aluminum, or stainless steel with a strip of plastic or vinyl. The door sweep goes underneath a door to fill the space between the door and the ground.
Foam tapes are one of the easiest weather stripping to apply and the least expensive weather stripping tool to apply. Its an adhesive-based foam tape that is available in both rubber and plastic. When used, the foam tape gets compressed by a door or a window, and it effectively seals the air out. This is not a permanent solution and typically lasts 1 to 3 years.
10. Insulating Window Treatment
There are several options when it comes to Window Treatment
· Honey Comb Shade
Cellular or honeycomb shades help reduce heat loss (up to 86%) and heat gain (up to 80%) together. Cellular shades have a honeycombed-shaped cell structure that can trap air within their pockets. And, as a result, they provide a good level of insulation to the house. To get the best results while using Cellular shades, it’s best to use shades with 2 cells rather than one. These shades, in general, have the highest efficiency value when it comes to window treatments.
· Solar Shades
If you ever want to look outside and enjoy the view and have insulating window treatments, then look no further than the Solar Shades. Solar Shades are used as a window treatment that will be a barrier between your home and harmful UV rays. This acts as an opaque material that will allow you to have an outside view as well. Solar Shades come in various transparencies, which includes a blackout option. The blackout option in solar shades blocks the sun from your room and will be completely dark during the day.
11. Heat pumps
For temperate climates that require minimal to the average use of heating and cooling needs, heat pumps are the way to go. It offers an energy-efficient way compared to furnaces and air conditioners. The heat pumps in your refrigerator follow the same principle. The heat pump uses electricity to move heat from a cool space to a warm space, making the space cooler and warm. During the warmers season, heat pumps move heat from your cool house into the warm outdoors and vice versa. This movement of heat is called heat transfer and is also called space conditioning. The cost of operating is one-quarter of the conventional heating or cooling appliances. There are three types of heat pumps: air-to-air, water source, and geothermal. The most uncommon version is the geothermal heat pump, where heat is being transferred to your house from the ground or a nearby water source.
The heat pump can reduce your electricity usage for heating by 30%-40% compared to furnaces and baseboard heaters.
12. Insulating Blanket For Water Heater
An electric water heater uses a significant amount of electricity compared to every other appliance. An insulation blanket or water heater blanket is a blanket that wraps around your water heater from it losing heat. As a result, it also helps the hot water to maintain a consistent temperature. An Insulation blanket is typically made of foil to denim., again depending on how much insulation you would need for your water heater.
The US Department of Energy states that homeowners could save anywhere between $150-$200 annually by just installing a water blanket.  That translates to between 7-16% of your annual bill. Insulation blankets are made up of a variety of materials—from foil and fiberglass to denim. It depends on how much insulation your water heater needs. They are rated on their R-value, which measures thermal resistance. The higher the R-value, the more insulation it will provide. You can find pre-cut jackets or blankets available for around $20.
13. Reduce Dryer Usage
Don’t over‐dry clothes. The dryer uses an average of 3000W of power, and if you’re going to over-dry your clothes, you will be using excess electricity. As a result, it will increase your energy use, and your clothes most probably will shrink and generate static electricity. This eventually shortens fabric life. After each use, it’s necessary to clean the dryer filter because a clogged filter will reduce airflow and reduce dryer performance. Check out other Energy Saving Tips When it comes to good housekeeping.
14. Tune up your heating and cooling (HVAC) system
An HVAC system is an essential part of any building or house. There are a couple of reasons why you would want to tune it up regularly. One, to make sure it works and the other helps to keep your energy bills down as well.
· Plug Air Seals
One of the easiest ways to do that is to make sure you plug your seals into the air duct system. In this way, you can avoid the air from escaping before it gets to the inside of your homes.
· Preserve Air Flow
The other way you can do that is to preserve the airflow by keeping the HVAC unit free from dust and debris. Dust and debris can clog the system and force the HVAC system to work harder.
· Cleaning Air Filters
As the HVAC system operates regularly, the air filter inside it gets clogged with dirt, dust, and debris. It’s important to note that it’s a sign of a good working HVAC system. On the flip side, it requires regular cleaning because the dirtier the filter, the harder the HVAC system needs to work. This will increase your energy use and up your electricity bills.
15. Use Task Lighting
Task lighting is lighting up the area you work instead of lighting up the entire room. For example, using under the cabinet lighting for kitchen sinks and countertops. Using Lamps to light the room, rather than turning on the entire light in the room. This usage helps to reduce your electricity usage costs in the long term.
Landscaping or putting in trees or shrubs can be a way to keep your home look pretty and beautiful. A strategically placed tree or shrub can cool your house in summer and reduce your energy bills. The tree or vine can provide an effective shade, as well as act as a windbreak and reduce your energy bill. A well-positioned tree or trees can reduce the nearby summertime temperature by 3-5 degrees based on a study.
17. Green Roofs
Green roofs are ideal for installing in urban buildings that have flat or shallow pit roofs. So what exactly are green roofs? Green Roofs are roofs where you pot some basic plants or build an entire garden. These green roofs provide an additional layer of insulation that can bring down the temperature on the roofs. As a result, the need for heating and cooling of the inside space can lower the urban heat island effect.
18. Switch to Solar Power
A decade ago, solar was an expensive option and was out of reach for many customers. Today, it’s easy for anyone to acquire if they decide to go that route. Although solar has a high initial cost, it pays for itself in 7-9 years and produces free electricity for the next 15 years. If you decided to go solar, the average cost of electricity would be around two to five cents per kWh over 25 years. 
19. Passive Solar Heating and Cooling
Passive Solar Heating and Cooling techniques help homeowners to save money on their utility bills. It is estimated that passive solar heating systems save money–for a home that uses gas can be from $150-$380 per year. It can be environmentally friendly. 
Passive solar heating allows homeowners to collect and distribute solar energy right through their windows. This is done by using materials that hold onto heat during the day and disperse it at night. As a result, homeowners can keep their homes comfortable even in spaces that would get cool. Passive Solar Cooling also reduces your heating costs as well.
Key takeaways, there are many things you can try to do to get better at conserving energy. Few things like changing your light bulbs from incandescent light bulbs to CFL or changing your electricity plans will be a quick fix. But to have any long-term effects, you may want to think about switching to solar power from conventional sources (coal, natural gas, etc.). Check out our guide to the Pros and Cons of going solar in our next article.