How to design your home to be more energy efficient

Household 4 min read

There’s so much to think about when moving into a home. The design of the rooms. The architecture. Colors, patterns, trends. But our thoughts usually don’t include things like how the design of a room will impact our utility bills or the environment. They should.

The fashionable and functional parts of designing your home don’t have to exist separately. In fact, there are plenty of places where the best-looking option might also be the best decision for keeping your energy bills under control.

Keep up with roof repairs

Every homeowner knows the importance of a good roof. And any good designer or home stager could tell you all about the role of a roof in creating curb appeal. But there’s more to roof construction than aesthetics and fending off leaks. The right roofing materials can help keep heat out in the summer and in during the winter, helping you to reduce the amount of energy you need to use to keep your home comfortable in any season.

With a roof, things are often expensive and always a big commitment, so whatever you do, you want to be sure to get it right the first time. The size, shape, and age of your home will also come into play in any decisions you make, as well as the material of the roof.

When you’re looking for the right materials to turn your roof into a money-saver, be sure to check with credible sources like ENERGY STAR and the Department of Energy (DOE) to get their recommendations on the best materials to use. You may even find out about local subsidies through programs where you can take your roof solar.

Gray house with roof

Photo Credit: Chinasa Cooper

Update your windows

After the roof, the second most important place to look in your home for ways to save energy is your windows. According to the DOE, the heat retained or lost through windows from season to season accounts for as much as 30% of residential spending on heating and cooling.

While there’s always the option of replacing your windows with updated and more energy-efficient models, there’s a lot that can be accomplished with a few simple updates. Look into getting your windows cold-weather ready by caulking, weatherstripping, and adding a few external additions like awnings. When replacing windows, seek energy efficient designs that are durable and come with the ENERGY STAR certification.

Dresser in front of bright windows

Photo Credit: Chinasa Cooper

Purchase ENERGY STAR appliances

ENERGY STAR is important when trying to design an energy-efficient home. This certification program, jointly run by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the DOE, is the go-to resource for finding out which home products, from light bulbs to televisions, are the best for keeping your energy usage—and expenditures—low.

It’s not a program interested in looks or aesthetics, so you’ll need to keep your design eye sharp as you search for the household items that have received their seal of approval. But if you’re trying to design a home that’s good for your wallet as well as your eye, the ENERGY STAR website and logo is a good place to start.

Dishwasher with open door

Photo Credit: Chinasa Cooper

Energy-smart lighting

Lighting your home is always an important consideration, from identifying the best overhead to ambient lighting to make each room shine. When thinking about energy efficiency, lighting considerations go beyond the shape of your favorite chandelier or table lamp, to strongly considering the type of bulbs you use in each.

Lightbulb technology has come a long way beyond your basic incandescent bulb. You can now find LED lightbulbs that are designed to reduce energy waste. And a host of new bulbs that can work with your smart home technology. Look for new lighting that can be dimmed or turned off with a simple voice command, and lighting that can be designed to automatically come on and shut off once you enter or leave the room. Hi-tech lighting is not only the future, it can save you big on those electric bills.

Bedside table with lamp

Photo Credit: Genevieve Garruppo

Invest in drapery

Window treatments are about more than just dressing up a room. They can also be helpful in creating an energy-efficient home. Heavy drapes in natural fabrics like wool can be an excellent way to warm up a space during the winter months. Solar blinds can keep the strong sun out and maintain the temperature of a room without letting it get too hot. And lightweight drapery can be perfect for spaces that you want more sun and heat in.

When deciding on drapery, look beyond just the design features and take the temperature of the room into consideration, seeing if you need to keep things cool or warm things up. Then make the investment that will yield great energy-saving results for years to come.

Room with purple drapes

Photo Credit: Patrick Cline

Put down rugs

Just like drapes, rugs are natural insulators that can help to regulate the temperature of a room. Look for naturally woven pieces in materials like wool, bamboo, and hemp when shopping for area rugs. Made using centuries-old techniques, naturally woven rugs go beyond just decorative pieces for the home.  

They are functional elements that can warm up a room during the cooler months and cool things down during the warmer months. Natural, breathable fibers will also avoid off-gassing in your home. Something that’s important in keeping your indoor air healthy all year long.

Entertainment room with large rug

Photo Credit: Patrick Cline

And, as always, be sure to keep everything you love protected with Progressive. 

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