If you want to save money and make the home look its best, you can easily achieve this by taking steps to decorate the home and maintaining energy-efficiency. You don’t need to consume a lot of energy or spend a lot of money when deciding on interior design elements. Here are some energy efficient design ideas to help you reduce energy expenses and optimize any space.
The Trend of Sustainable Living
With electric rates at their highest and fuel prices skyrocketing, there are plenty of reasons to switch to more energy efficient practices when it comes to interior design. Thankfully, there are many unique ways to make your home look great while maintaining sustainable practices that help reduce energy costs while helping improve the environment. The following are some of the best ways to use sustainable living to your advantage and impress your guests.
Skylights can significantly increase your home’s efficiency, improving air circulation, interior lighting, and heating. Your home’s design may not accommodate a skylight, but if you have a space in the home with a roof and ceiling that would allow for the installation of one or more skylights, consult with a professional to determine if this would be a good option for the home. A skylight can allow more natural daylight into the home, and you can also install energy-efficient lighting to keep the room illuminated at any time of day.
Ensure There’s Enough Space for HVAC Equipment
Prior to making decisions regarding furniture placement, make sure you know where all vents, cold air returns, thermostats, and radiators are when planning to decorate a space. HVAC systems act as the home’s lungs, which means that if you place a piece of furniture directly over a cold air return, it’s essentially suffocating the home.
Make sure all vents are exposed to the open air and can direct treated air to the middle of the room. Depending on the proximity of furniture to a vent, you may want to adjust vent fins or buy a vent deflector that can help guide airflow throughout the home.
Another aspect to consider is the placement of artificial heat sources, including appliances or lightbulbs that heat up. Placing these near a thermostat could indicate to the thermostat that the home is warmer than it actually is, which can lead to insufficient heating throughout the rest of the home.
Insulate the Home with Furniture
The home’s walls should be insulated enough to prevent improper heating, with properly sealed windows further avoiding drafts. However, no home is perfect when it comes to insulation, which is where furniture placement can come in. While your main focus when placing furniture might be on aesthetics and comfort for the user, consider how furniture placement may affect the room’s overall temperature and ability to circulate air.
If you want to incorporate an energy efficient design using furniture, you can do so using overstuffed or high-backed chairs placed in areas with poorer insulation. Skirted furniture can also prevent drafts from making their way across the floor. Keep in mind that furniture doesn’t need to be upholstered or stuffed. Any type of dense furniture such as bookcases and shelves that are full of items will help provide a sufficient barrier that protects against cold air. You can also use quilts or tapestries over the wall, which will be both decorative and thermal.
Strategically Place Rugs and Carpeting
While many homeowners prefer hardwood floors, bare flooring isn’t always the best at keeping a room properly insulated. Without heated floors, which can be expensive to install despite efficient performance, the floor could be a significant source of thermal loss. Hard flooring in areas such as basements or raised homes where heating isn’t always installed can also leave the space vulnerable.
In the winter, you can use area rugs if you don’t want to install carpeting. However, if you have the budget and believe it can meet your design preferences, wool carpeting coupled with thick carpet padding can help prevent cold air from traveling around the room.
Use Window Treatments for Insulation
Some window treatments may be installed specifically for decor, but they can also help further cut down on energy costs. If you have the right treatments to do the job, you can use them to reduce the amount of air you’re either losing or taking in to keep the home cool. Window treatments can also block the sun’s rays to prevent the room from heating up, which can help reduce the need to use air conditioning on sunny days. Depending on the surrounding decor and your preferences, you can choose from blinds, shutters, drapes, or curtains to keep the sun out and complement the rest of your interior design.
If reducing energy expenses is a primary goal, you’re better off sticking with harder window treatments such as blinds and shutters, which will keep air and heat inside more effectively than softer treatments like drapes and curtains. On the other hand, you can layer window treatments, using curtains to cover closed blinds for a more visually appealing aesthetic.
Install a Ceiling Fan
Ceiling fans can help significantly reduce energy usage on an annual basis. These fixtures are both efficient and economical and use roughly the same amount of energy as a 100-watt lightbulb. One tip to help you save even more is to set your fan to spin counterclockwise during the summer months and turn up the thermostat by a few degrees, which can help you save up to 40 percent or more on cooling expenses. You can also set fans to spin clockwise during the winter and save as much as 10 percent on heating. Depending on the size and layout of the space, you might want to install more than one ceiling fan.
Use Energy-Efficient Lighting for Your Most-Used Fixtures
You can save even more money on energy bills by replacing your home’s most frequently used lights or the bulbs in them to models that comply with Energy Star regulations. Lighting in your living room, bathroom, bedroom, and kitchen will be the best to consider switching out with more efficient designs.
Modify Least-Used Lighting
While replacing your most-used lighting with energy-efficient models, consider downgrading the lightbulbs in your least-used fixtures. For instance, you likely don’t need a 100-watt bulb in your guest bedroom or in a closet, which means you’re likely better off replacing them with 40- or 60-watt bulbs to help save energy.
In addition to changing your lighting fixtures and bulbs, you can modify your light switches to further cut down on energy use while allowing you to more easily modify the room’s mood and tone. Dimmer switches enable you to reduce lighting when it isn’t needed and you can further conserve energy by installing occupancy motion sensors that turn lights off after a certain period when nobody is in the room.
Paint the Home
Another great way to save more money on interior design and waste less energy is to paint. You can use light paint colors on ceilings and walls that reflect more light to brighten the room and reduce the need for energy-consuming lightbulbs. There’s plenty you can do with light paint colors, so don’t be afraid to get creative with the design.
Purchase Local Design Elements
More eco-friendly energy efficient design products will help reduce the amount of energy and resources required to get to you. For example, ordering tile from overseas will need to travel via intermodal shipping via trucking and freight containers, whereas purchasing locally can give you the same product quality without taking up as many resources.
Make Use of Sliding Doors
One visually appealing installation that can help make for a more energy efficient design for home decor is a sliding door in lieu of open doorways. Installing sliding doors can help further improve circulation of air throughout the home. Many of these options feature a rustic aesthetic that’s appropriate for many different types of interiors. These doors are also often easy to install for a unique and aesthetically pleasing look. These doors are particularly ideal for sealing off rooms that aren’t in use too frequently, keeping air in the rooms where it’s needed.
Create an Energy Efficient Design in the Home That Suits Your Style
Regardless of your ideal aesthetic, you don’t have to compromise your home’s visual appeal to reduce energy use and save more money. There’s a plethora of options available to cover every aspect of your interior decor while helping maintain an efficient environment. You don’t need to worry about an inefficiencies with the right combination of furniture, window treatments, fans, skylights, lighting fixtures, and other features installed that can help ensure your home is consistently sustainable.
If you need assistance with deciding on the right look for your home, you can always work with a professional interior designer who can help you make the right selections based the look and feel you want. You’ll also be able to find plenty of energy-efficient options to optimize energy use and save more money over time.