8 Easy Projects for Instant Energy Savings

With these inexpensive ideas you can reduce your carbon footprint and slash your energy bills. Spend $400 once to save $900 a year!

Reducing your home energy use is the best of win-win deals — not only does it reduce your carbon footprint, it also saves you big bucks on your energy bills. That’s especially exciting when you consider that many home energy improvements are fast, easy and inexpensive. Often, the savings from an individual project are small, but when you start putting them together they add up quickly.

My family set a goal of cutting our total energy use, energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions in half, and we were able to meet that goal with the help of these simple home projects. We found these reductions in our energy use easy to accomplish without making any significant lifestyle changes.

Here are the details: We cut our total energy use from 93,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) per year to 38,000 kWh per year. This is saving us $4,500 per year in energy costs, and has reduced our carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 17 tons! Our rate of return on the money we invested in this program is more than 50 percent — tax free.

Altogether, we took on 22 different projects, including two solar heating efforts that have already appeared in Mother Earth News. (See Build a Simple Solar Heater, December 2006/January 2007, and Solar Heating Plan for Any Home, December 2007/January 2008.) You can find details about all the projects we’ve done at our home in Montana on my Web site. But those I’ll explain in the following pages are the fast, simple ones. These eight easy home improvement projects cost us about $400 and will save us at least $9,000 over the next 10 year

The Top Eight Projects Initial
per Year
per Year
CO2 Reduction
per Year
Personal Computer Power Management $20 $178 1,780 kWh 3,560 lbs
Install Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs $50 $117 1,170 kWh 2,340 lbs
Seal and Insulate Heating Ducts $20 $75 940 kWh 480 lbs
Reduce Infiltration Losses From House (Seal Leaks) $50 $156 1,980 kWh 1,010 lbs
Vent Dryer to Inside During Winter $5 $63 630 kWh 286 lbs
Insulate Windows With Bubble Wrap $38 $75 960 kWh 490 lbs
Eliminate Phantom Electrical Loads $70 $57 570 kWh 1,140 lbs
Use an Electric Mattress Pad $125 $186 2,320 kWh 1,150 lbs
Totals $378 $907 10,350 kWh 10,456 lbs


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