Did you know that the average U.S. household consumes tens of thousands of kilowatt hours of electricity each year? Much of that energy is totally unnecessary – it’s lost to leaks and inefficiencies. All that extra energy also comes at a cost – both to the environment and to your pocketbook. Despite being in energy-efficient California, a home in San Francisco is no exception to these statistics.
In keeping with the spirit of energy conservation, we’ve put together a list of tips and instructions for keeping a home in San Francisco warm and bright, without wasting energy, and without breaking the bank.
#1. Invest in Energy Efficient Appliances
Home appliances often come with a tremendous power drain, but older appliances are particularly problematic. Older appliances were not designed with energy conservation in mind, and they will have only become less efficient as they have aged. A new washer and dryer may seem like a large investment, but the savings on your energy bill (hundreds of dollars a year, or more) will more than offset the costs in the long-term.
#2. Unplug Devices when Not in Use
When a device is plugged into an outlet, even if powered off, it often draws a trickle of constant energy, generally referred to as “phantom power.” Larger devices, like game consoles, televisions, and computers are especially power hungry, but even something as simple as a phone charger could be draining power every minute it’s plugged in. As a general rule, if you’re not using it, don’t let it take up an outlet.
#3. Insulate or Upgrade Your Water Heater
Your water heater is in continuous operation, giving you hot water on demand, but it’s extremely wasteful. Heating something is already an inefficient process at the best of times, but most of that heat never gets used. One strong option is to replace your water heater with flash-heaters on the pipes. That way, water only gets heated when you turn on the faucet. If that’s impractical for your home, even something as simple as a thermal blanket wrapped around your water heater can make a considerable difference to your overall energy efficiency.
#4. Replace Bulbs with Energy Efficient Alternatives
LED bulbs have three major advantages over standard incandescent bulbs. They put out a broader, more natural spectrum of light, making your home feel brighter (and look better if you’re hosting an open house!), they last for decades before they need replacing, and they operate at a fraction of the energy cost of traditional bulbs. They fit standard sockets, so it’s barely an hour’s work to retrofit your home.
#5. Replace Older Thermostats with a Programmable Unit
Does your heat need to be on all day while you’re at work? Is there any reason to keep your lower floor heated while you’re in bed, under the covers? A programmable thermostat unit lets you preset particular times to raise or lower your heating. Since it’s automated, it runs in the background, saving energy and money.
#6. Use Insulating Drapes and Take Advantage of Windows
San Francisco is famed for its vintage Victorian and Edwardian houses, but heritage buildings often come with heritage windowpanes. Even closed windows have a way of bleeding away warmth, so invest in some insulating drapes. Think of them like temporary insulation, keeping the chill out, and making your home more energy efficient.
Be sure not to cover every window, however. On brighter days, exposing south-facing windows will let you take better advantage of the sun’s warmth, and take some of the pressure off your heating systems.
#7. Plug and Repair Any Leaks
Use a caulk, expanding foam, or weatherstripping to seal any cracks or air leaks. Most often, you’ll find gaps between the walls and window or door frames, but as houses settle, you may find lesions in the exterior siding as well. An infrared camera can help you spot places where the insulation is thinner, or where there are cracks in the exterior walls.
#8. Close Your Fireplace Dampers when Possible
When your fireplace isn’t in use, be sure to close the dampers to keep your home sealed. If you plan on using a dedicated heating system, it may be prudent to keep a fireplace flume sealed off entirely, further insulating your home.
Buying or Selling a Home in San Francisco?
Energy efficiency is one of the things we look at every time we’re buying or selling a home in San Francisco. If you’d like to hear more, or if you’re planning to list or buy property in San Francisco, go ahead and contact us! Danielle Lazier and Associates, in collaboration with COMPASS San Francisco, have the experience, the talent, and the skills you can depend on to make your real estate dreams come true.