(BPT) - By Carter Oosterhouse, TV Host and Home Improvement Expert

Over the last two-plus years, I’ve watched the home transform into a centralized hub for every aspect of life. Although we have learned to adapt to the impact left in COVID-19's wake, certain routines born out of the pandemic remain – whether that be remote work, schooling, or just simply enjoying time with family or friends from the comfort of our homes.

With people spending more time at home, residential energy usage has experienced quite a spike. As a result, utility costs are increasing and homeowners are looking for effective ways to save money on energy bills. Though, to reduce energy usage and in turn, save on costs, homeowners must first understand where energy is being used … and wasted. Below are some of my top tips for a more energy-efficient home.

Start by taking baby steps toward a greener future

Some simple ways that homeowners can save on energy bills and reduce their carbon footprint include using LED bulbs and purchasing energy-efficient appliances to replace outdated ones. Make checking insulation around windows and doors a seasonal practice to reduce drafts and escaping heat and AC. For more steps that you can take, visit EnergySage.com.

Conduct a home energy audit

A home energy assessment by a local energy provider is helpful for determining a benchmark for energy usage within the community. This way, homeowners can determine whether they are high or low in energy consumption. For the crafty homeowner looking to save a few bucks, a DIY solution can be a smart meter – local energy statistics can be found through utility companies and are often available online. Additionally, consumers can explore easily accessible resources online that provide insight on the proper steps and solutions for improving energy efficiency at home.

Understand and monitor energy use

Beyond the basics, homeowners should consider adding technologies to their home to better understand their energy usage. An energy-monitoring system, like Schneider Electric’s Square D™ Wiser Energy Monitor, allows homeowners to track electricity use for every device in their home through a connected smartphone app, giving the question, “Why is my electric bill so high?” an easy answer.

Update to smart electrical switches and outlets

People don’t often think about electrical outlets or switches, but new technology is changing that.

Square D™ Wiring Devices – a lineup of smart electrical switches, dimmers and outlets – provide energy insights down to the plug level. Curling iron left on while away? Now, you can quickly turn it off from an app remotely! Beyond that, these wiring devices allow homeowners to easily switch covers/plates for new designs and colors to evolve with their home styles – no electrician needed. There’s nothing better than combining aesthetics and functionality!

Think through solar and battery solutions

Additionally, rather than using climate-damaging power sources, I have had many clients looking to add alternative options such as rooftop solar and battery solutions into their homes. Initial builds are exploring green materials, and even home renovators are considering how to expand the longevity of home appliances and materials by investing at the upfront.

By implementing a path of numerous sustainable energy sources at every stage of a home’s lifespan (through devices and clean energy sources) homeowners are ensuring that daily life is future-proofed and can go on even in the case of an outage.

As our desires for a more sustainable life grow, the home will not only be a hub for life – it will also act as the bridge between convenience, design and planet-friendly solutions. By taking the proper steps toward energy efficiency, homes can remain a place of comfort while ensuring safety and savings.