How to make your home and living room energy efficient (hint: windows, lighting, plants, standby power, and thermostat).

– guest post –

We spend plenty of time indoors during the winter months, and our living rooms get plenty of use during the cold season—meaning our utility bills can quickly rise. Save energy in the living room and save hundreds in energy costs in one fell swoop with these energy efficient tips and upgrades.

Found on: Elle Decoration / Photography: Andrea Papini / Styling: Saša Antic .

A Programmable Thermostat

Everyone wants to ensure their home and family is as comfortable as possible, but heating and cooling costs can result in major energy usage. Using a programmable thermostat can ensure your living room stays cool in the summer months and cozy in the winter season without costing you an arm and a leg. Smart thermostats are designed to learn your habits; if no one is in your home during the day but almost everyone arrives by 6 pm, you can program your thermostat to start cooling or heating around 5 pm to ensure the space is comfy on arrival—without wasting energy throughout the day. This simple and affordable fix can lead to continued savings over the long term, and see your family happy and healthy.

Photo: Lindsay Salazar Photography / Found on: Studio Mcgee.

Cut Down on Standby Power

Most of us are guilty of wasting vampire power, that is, the energy that’s wasted when our electronic devices are plugged in but not in use. These electronics can account for up to 10 percent of residential electricity use. The average American home has a whopping 40 electronics using power in standby or off mode. Making efforts to reduce this waste can save you a significant amount of money each year. Commit yourself to unplugging the electronics that you rarely use. Try to combine as many appliances as possible onto a power strip; these make it easy for you to turn off all attached electronics in one simple flick of a switch. We also waste plenty of power with chargers; most of us are constantly connected through tablets and smartphones. This constant use necessitates charging; but when we leave, we often let the chargers remain in the outlet. Set a reminder to unplug these chargers to reduce electricity use.

Lighting Issues

As a great deal of activity and actual “living” occurs in the living room on a daily basis, it’s not uncommon for living these spaces to have multiple lighting sources, and most often these sources are used at the same time. This can be a huge suck on your electricity sources, but unless you commit to spending less time in this space, this habit likely won’t discontinue. Instead of turning off the light, replace your bulbs with energy efficient alternatives and Energy Star approved fixtures.

Found on: Adore Magazine.

Replace Windows

Many living rooms are designed with copious amounts of window to make the most of natural lighting. While this can do wonders for the look of the home, windows can come with their disadvantages, especially if they’re outdated. Old windows can allow warm air to escape and cold air to enter during the winter, forcing your hand with the thermostat and resulting in excess energy usage. Modern windows are designed to cut down on air infiltration and help you maintain the temperature of your home. Window replacements can be expensive, but you can find funding for new energy efficient windows through companies like Renovate America. This San Diego based company runs a PACE financing program that allows homeowners to purchase energy efficient upgrades without shelling out a fortune on the spot, which is something most homeowners can benefit from.

Photography: Amber May / Found on: Domino.

Incorporate Indoor Plants

Plants can add more than beauty to your living room. The right indoor plants can reduce energy costs. How? Indoor plants can actually increase the humidity of the air in your home. Indoor plants can make your home more comfortable throughout the year; by releasing moisture into the air through transpiration, plants work to cool and warm a room. When plants release moisture in a warm room, the temperature can be reduced by 10 degrees. Conversely, in a cold room, humidity can actually make the space feel warmer, as moist hair can hold onto heat better. Find fantastic indoor plants at The Tutu Guru and transform your living room into a makeshift greenhouse to cut down on energy use.

Images courtesy of Fantastic Frank via Coco Lapine Design. Styling by Josefin Haag.

Author: Linda Reynolds

Linda is a wife, mother of two, and gardener extraordinaire; when she’s not writing, you can usually find her getting her hands dirty in the backyard. She’s a sucker for a good period piece, and is passionate about family issues and holistic wellness. As a member of Greenpeace and green housing consulting organizations, Linda is also an authority on sustainability and eco-friendly construction.

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