Careful use of natural resources will save you money and create a healthier, more comfortable home.
1. Change your windows
Make the most of the sun’s warmth by installing large windows on the northern side of your house.
To stay cool in summer, install awnings, eaves or blinds that block the high summer sun.
2. Make sure that your home is well insulated
A properly insulated home can be up to 10°C warmer in winter and as much as 7°C cooler in summer.
3. Step away from the tumble dryer
Whenever the weather permits, use a clothesline instead of a dryer to dry your washing.
You’ll save money and help cut greenhouse gases by about three kilograms for every load of washing.
4. Turn off appliances
One of the simplest ways to save energy is to switch off appliances at the wall when you won’t be using them for a few hours.
Keeping appliances on standby can account for 10 per cent of a household electricity bill.
5. Turn the heating down
If you have central heating and an adjustable thermostat, try turning your heating down a fraction.
You may not notice a big difference heat-wise, but you could make big savings: a reduction of 1°C can cut bills by 10 per cent.
6. Plug any draughts
Plug gaps around windows and doors and any other external openings using draught excluders and weather strips.
Draughtproofing can cut household heat loss by up to 25 per cent in winter
7. Choose curtains wisely
Reduce heat loss by up to one third in winter by covering windows with heavy, lined, close-fitting curtains and a closed pelmet.
8. Switch your lightbulbs
Replace standard incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs).
Though they are a little more expensive than conventional bulbs, CFLs are much more efficient, creating an equivalent light at a significantly lower wattage—a 25-watt CFL is as bright as a 100-watt regular bulb. As a result, CFLs can last 10 times as long and use 80 per cent less energy.
9. Select the right appliances
Select appliances that are both energy-efficient and the right size for your needs—a 284-litre fridge will use 20 per cent more energy than a 210-litre fridge, even if they both have the same Energy Rating.
10. Go for gas
If you have a choice between natural gas and conventional electricity, go with gas.
Not only is natural gas normally cheaper, but it produces one-third of the greenhouse gas emissions of electricity from coal-fired power stations.
11. Insulate your pipes
Make sure that your hot water tank and pipes are properly insulated.
In an average home, heating water accounts for more than one-quarter of the household energy bill; and as much as half of the total water-heating costs can be due to heat loss.
12. Upgrade your systems
Next time you change your hot-water system, consider buying an energy-efficient gas, solar or electric-heat-pump unit.
These systems cost more to purchase but are much cheaper to run. They will save you money in the long term, and help reduce greenhouse gases.
Read more: Is it better to live in the city or country?
Read more: The science of dreaming
Keep up with the top stories from Reader's Digest by subscribing to our weekly newsletter