Although green building systems are popular right now, you don't have to redo your entire home to save money. While home improvements can help energy efficiency, there are many other steps you can take to help lower your energy consumption.

Harvest Rainwater

You can reduce your carbon footprint and still irrigate your lawn and garden by collecting rainwater. Rainwater harvesting is a method of capturing rainwater and storing it for later use. The process is simple and you can use your existing roof and gutter system to redirect the water where you want it. You can opt for a simple system and merely set a barrel under your downspout or have a professional install a discrete underground system complete with a filter for creating drinking water.

HVAC

If you're heating and air conditioning systems are old, consider replacing them with more energy-efficient units. Change furnace filters once a month and air conditioning filters once a year to keep things running efficiently. Keep bushes and weeds trimmed away from your air conditioner condenser, as well. Open your blinds to let the sun in during the winter months but close them to keep it out over the summer. This greatly reduces the amount of energy your heater and air conditioner must expend to keep you comfortable.

Hot Water Helpers

On average, hot water heaters account for 25% of a home's energy usage and creates the most greenhouse gasses. Combat this by trying to limit your showers to 4 minutes and lowering the temperature on the heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit (49 degrees Celsius). Fix leaky faucets right away and consider installing a low-flow shower head.

Unplug

Many modern appliances and their chargers draw energy all the time. Your cell phone charger, for example, uses energy whenever it is plugged into the wall; even if it isn't plugged into your phone. Up to 10% of your electricity could be used by gadgets and appliances that are on standby. To prevent this problem and lower your bills, turn off and unplug your appliances when they are not in use.

Dress for Success

Even if you plan to stay home all day, it's still important to pay attention to the weather when you get dressed in the morning. Cold winter days may require sweatshirts and sweaters even indoors. By dressing warmly you can stay comfortable without tuning the heat up higher. The same is true in the summer. Wearing shorts and a light shirt will help you stay cool indoors and out without feeling the need to bump up the air conditioner. No matter what you wear, try washing it in cold water rather than hot to save even more energy.

Plan Your Cleaning

A little bit of planning ahead can save you a lot of your energy usage. Watch your dishwasher and washing machine carefully, making sure you only run full loads through them. Small loads are inefficient. You can also save on your energy by planning your oven cleanings. Plan an oven meal for a cold winter night and then use your oven's self-cleaning feature as soon as your dinner is done with cooking. Doing so drastically shortens the amount of time your oven will need to heat up before cleaning itself. Ironing clothes in large batches is also an energy saver as it reduces the number of times you'll need to let the iron get hot.

Modern homes are full of conveniences that make life easier and get chores done more quickly. If we fail to use these appliance responsibly, though, we risk wasting large amounts of natural resources and driving up energy bills. When you stop and take a quick look around your home, however, it's easy to see several places where you can cut your energy use without missing a beat. Your wallet and future generations will both thank you.