House windows with planter box

It’s 2015. We’ve got internet. We’ve got tablets. What’s next, flying hover boards?  Speaking of future – what planet do we want to leave for generations to come?  From this world we call home to our own small ‘worlds’, you can easily incorporate sustainability at home.

Here are five energy efficiency tips to make your house energy efficient – both today and tomorrow.

1. Nest Thermostats

All this talk about smartphones and connected devices and automation has got the tech world talking about smart homes. One of the most energy-saving gadgets you can install to make your home smarter in every way is the Nest thermostat. It’s got a mind of its own, well a mind that’s been strategically trained to learn the family’s schedule and adjust heating and cooling accordingly and automatically. After a few weeks of gauging the household’s patterns and air condition preferences, the Nest internally customizes a schedule and executes the right temperatures that eventually optimize the use of energy.

Furthermore, it falls in the realm of synced devices, which means it comes with an app that allows you to control it from a mobile phone, safeguarding you from any oversights that may occur if you say, leave the house for vacation and forget to turn off the heat.

Goalzero portable solar charger
Image source.

2. Goal Zero Solar Power

Solar energy is the best energy to have in the home when talking about efficiency. Power can be naturally collected in Goal Zero panels, then is stored in a Goal Zero power pack which finally makes it’s way to electrical appliances of any size from smartphones to computers to refrigerators. By using energy generated from natural resources, it reduces the carbon footprint and is very cost-effective in a big-picture sense. Additionally, the Goal Zero portable charger (juiced with solar power) is especially convenient for on-the-go devices like iPhones and laptops because it provides an off-the-grid power solution.

3. Plant a Tree

It may seem like a real home-grown idea, but you can reduce energy usage by simply planting a tree in a strategic spot outside the house. Deciduous shade trees are ideal for planting on the side of the house that gets the most intense exposure to the sun during the summer months. The leaves will give your home the shade it needs to keep cooler and prevent unnecessary air-conditioning costs and in the winter time when the tree becomes bare, more sunshine will be able to warm up the home in its absence, providing a greater source of natural heat. It’s a two-for-one deal, bringing you down to/with earth.

4. Lighting

Fluorescent, LED, Energy Star certified?  What is the best choice?  Well, that depends largely on multiple factors including budget, life of the bulb and the surface area you are trying to light. Fluorescent lighting generally is a more feasible option for filling a larger area whereas LED lighting is more focused and directional (think wall art; under/inside cabinets).  Energy Star rated bulbs are going to be more efficient than their no-rated counterparts. At current market costs, LEDs still carry with them the most initial up-front cost.  However, as market demand increases, LED prices are expected to decrease and long term LEDs are the most cost effective lighting choice available today.  For a plethora of information on lighting considerations including savings figures, check out the EPA’s Energy Star site.

Smart appliances
Energy-saving smart appliances. Image source.

5. Smart Appliances

New innovation smart appliances like the dishwasher, washer and dryer and refrigerator are starting to make their way into home and for good reason. Not only are these machines optimized to use the least amount of energy and water, they can be controlled via connected devices to further cut unnecessary energy expenditures. Managing life at home from afar has never been easier due to the emergence of mobile devices and apps that link to these appliances. Plus there’s service carriers like T-Mobile that offer free data for tablets so you can use these mobile apps at leisure and often.

Life starts in the home, and so does energy efficiency. The time has come to do your part in saving some energy for the sake of your finances and more importantly, the sake of the planet. So go on, there’s no time to waste, or energy for that matter.

Feature image courtesy of Rachel Kramer

By Jessica Oaks

Jessica Oaks is associate editor for Freshly Techy and a freelance writer covering technology, healthcare, finance, fashion, travel and more.