How to Decorate Your Home for Energy Efficiency

How to Decorate Your Home for Energy Efficiency

Your home’s decor doesn’t just speak to your sense of style - it can be a statement of your home's energy efficiency as well. Decor elements like lighting, window treatments and even wall color can affect a home’s overall energy efficiency. Making decorating decisions with energy efficiency in mind can help reduce your home’s energy consumption and lower your electricity, heating and water bills!

Here are some energy-efficient home decorating tips to help your home stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter:

Lighten Up

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), lighting accounts for 9% of the typical American home’s annual energy consumption. While lighting is an essential part of any home, it's still possible to use less energy while properly illuminating your home. Here are some ways you can reduce your home's energy usage with lighting:

  • Replace incandescent light bulbs with electricity-sipping CFLs or LEDs. While  these bulbs do have a higher initial purchase price, they use much less energy and have a longer lifespan - offsetting that high cost.  The U.S. Department of Energy says these bulbs use 25% to 80% less energy than traditional incandescent lights, and can last  3 to 25 times longer!
  • For lights that don’t get used often, or where gentle illumination is sufficient, install lower wattage bulbs that will use less energy.
  • Whenever possible, rely on natural light to illuminate rooms. Open window treatments to allow light in during the day, or consider installing a skylight with remote-controlled solar blinds that will allow you to customize the amount of natural light entering a room.

Cool Off (Or Heat Up) With Color

You probably learned the basic relationship between color and temperature in school  — blue on a faucet knob indicates cold water and red is for hot. Color in home decor also affects room temperature as well as brightness. Wall colors, for example, affect how much sunlight and heat a room takes in. Plus, color affects perception of temperature. According to Color Matters, people think rooms painted in cool colors like blue or green are 6 to 10 degrees cooler than the actual temperature, and those painted in hot colors like red are perceived as 6 to 10 degrees warmer.

You can use color to influence light and temperature:

  • To make a small room with few or no windows feel bigger and brighter, paint its walls in a light color.
  • A darker hue can help warm up a large, drafty space and make it seem less cavernous.
  • Since light colors reflect heat, choose paler hues for rooms that get a lot of sun, such as those facing south or west.
  • Rooms facing north usually get little or no direct sunlight, so a warmer, darker color can help the room feel more cozy and comfortable.

Energize With Accessories

Accessories do more than personalize a space or underscore a design theme. They can also enhance your home's energy efficiency by making  you feel comfortable without the need to adjust the thermostat. To accessorize your way to energy efficiency, try these tricks:

  • During cooler weather, add plush pillows and throws in warm colors and fabrics. These cozy comforts can encourage people to snuggle up to fabrics that will help them retain body heat.
  • Swap out window treatments seasonally. In the summer, you can reduce the amount of sunlight and heat entering a room by using room-darkening shades, blinds or curtains. In the winter, when you want to maximize the amount of sunlight a room receives, switch to lighter-color window treatments.
  • Add ceiling fans wherever practical. In the summer, ceiling fans can be set to pull air upward, creating a cooling breeze. In the winter, switch the setting so the rotation of the blades pushes warm air that’s collected near the ceiling back down into the room to heat it more efficiently.

Outdoor Tips

Indoor decor isn’t the only cosmetic home feature that affects energy efficiency. Your landscaping can help as well! The U.S. Department of Energy says landscaping can help reduce heating and cooling costs, and that you should consider your climate zone when landscaping for energy efficiency. The department offers a guide to landscaping for different climate zones.

For example, where in your yard you plant a tree can affect your home's energy efficiency. If your home gets a lot of sun on the southern side, plant trees on that side of the house. In the summer, their leafy branches will shield the house from the sun. In the winter, when the trees lose their leaves, you’ll get more sunlight on that side of the house.

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