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Advice for making your home more energy-efficient

It doesn’t have to be complicated or costly. Here are things you can do to help the planet and your wallet.

(The Washington Post illustration; iStock)

As we head into colder months, keeping our homes warm and our energy bills down is top of mind. And there’s a lot you can do to increase your home’s energy efficiency, beyond spending thousands on solar panels or replacing appliances with newer models. We’ve put together a collection of some of our past stories to help you assess and increase your home’s energy efficiency, regardless of your budget.

Home energy audit: Older homes are charming, but they can be drafty or struggle to retain heat. After trying to keep her New England Victorian home warm in winter, staff writer Danielle Douglas-Gabriel hired a professional for an energy audit to measure airflow and find the source of frigid drafts. After assessing Douglas-Gabriel’s house, technicians made repairs and installed energy-efficient lightbulbs, shower heads and weatherstripping in the windows. Here are tips on how to navigate — and get the most out of — your own home energy audit.

What homeowners can do to protect the planet: Climate and science reporter Sarah Kaplan often receives queries from readers about what they can do individually to protect the planet. There isn’t a single answer that works for everyone, so our Climate Solutions team has been putting together guides with ideas to help; this one for homeowners discusses “weatherization,” which can be as simple as closing cracks around doors and windows or identifying sources of leaks and fixing them.

Saving on energy costs: Are your utility bills pinching your wallet? Writer Lindsey M. Roberts has tips to save on home energy — and many of them don’t involve replacing every appliance. Experts she interviewed suggested small steps that can have an effect: line-drying clothes and decreasing dryer use; picking window treatments that are appropriate for a room’s light; switching out lightbulbs for more efficient ones; and relying on ceiling fans more than air-conditioning systems.

On a budget: Having a “green home” might sound like a luxury, but it doesn’t have to be, writes Daniel Bortz. Joining a community solar project, for example, can help trim energy bills while using an energy source that’s more environmentally friendly than fossil fuels. Find more ideas here.

Energy efficiency from the ground up: Building homes in an eco-friendly manner is a booming business, but it can be confusing to navigate all the innovations and decipher what terms such as green, sustainable and energy-efficient mean, writes Stephanie Brick, owner of Stephanie Brick Design in Baltimore. In this piece, she explains some of the buzzwords surrounding eco-friendly construction and materials.

More from The Home You Own

The Home You Own is here to help you make sense of the home you live in.

DIYs you can actually do yourself: Don’t be intimidated by those home projects. Consider which renovations add the most value to your home (including the kitchen and bathroom), what you can actually get done in a weekend, and everything in between.

Your home + climate change: Whether you’re trying to prepare your home for an electric vehicle or want to start composting, we’re here to help you live more sustainably.

Plants and pets: Your furry friends and greenery add more life to your spaces. For your green thumb, find tips for saving money on houseplants and how to keep your plants alive longer. Pets can make a house a home, but stopping your cats from scratching the furniture isn’t always easy.

Keeping your home clean and organized: We breakdown the essential cleaning supplies you need, and point out the 11 germy spots that are often overlooked. Plus, hear hacks from professional organizers on maximizing counter space,

Maintaining your home: Necessary home maintenance can save your thousands in the long run. From gutter cleaning and preparing your fireplace for winter, to what to do if your basement floods.

Contact us: Looking to buy your first home? Do you have questions about home improvement or homeownership? We’re here to help with your next home project.