With energy costs rising and the usage of electronic appliances increasing, many homeowners are seeing a bump in their energy bills. A few smart home maintenance projects will help minimize energy usage to keep your home running efficiently throughout the season.
Want to avoid paying extra this winter? Follow these five tips and you’ll be well on your way to saving big.
Check Your Windows
Older homes that still have single-pane windows are probably spending a lot more on energy costs than newer, more energy-efficient homes. New homes are often equipped with dual-pane windows. If your home’s single-pane windows are still in good condition, think about installing storm windows and replacing any damaged weather stripping. And if new windows aren’t quite in the budget, pick up some plastic window film in the meantime – this can help keep air leaks from entering the home.
Get an HVAC Checkup
If your home’s furnace or boiler was installed before 1992, there’s a good chance you’re paying much more than homes running a new high-efficiency system. Older furnaces clock in around the 65% efficiency range (compared to today’s 80% to 98% efficiency ratings). Needless to say, the energy savings can be substantial. According to the Department of Energy, a modern, high-efficiency heating system can reduce your home’s yearly heating bill by up to 50% when running at maximum efficiency.
A new furnace is a big investment but it’s one that’ll pay off in the long run. If a new heating system isn’t an option, consider a full system tune-up paired with a yearly maintenance program to keep your furnace running as efficiently as possible.
Reinsulate Your Attic
Many homes built before 1992 may be lacking enough new insulation to keep them sufficiently insulated from the cold and heat. The Department of Energy says that adding just a few hundred dollars of new insulation to your home’s attic can decrease heating and cooling needs by up to 30%. The number goes up depending on construction, size and insulation used in other areas of the home, including windows and exterior wall insulation. When adding insulation to an attic, it’s important to focus on exterior walls and around any recessed lighting fixtures.
New insulation comes with an R-rating that ranges from R-22 to R-49. The higher the value, the more effective the insulation will be. Check the manufacturer’s guidelines to determine the best insulation rating for your home’s climate.
Lower the Thermostat
One of the easiest ways to cut energy cost is to turn down the heat when it’s not in use. Lowering your home’s heating by just one degree can save you approximately 3% over a 24-hour period.
Programmable thermostats are great for lowering your home’s temperature without even thinking about it. With these thermostats, you can automatically have the heat lowered overnight or while you’re at work. Decreasing the heat by 10 to 15 degrees while sleeping can make a substantial difference in your overall utility bill, so grab some extra blankets and bundle up!
Block Drafts and Air Leaks
In the colder months, drafts and air leaks will make their way through small cracks in old windows or under doors, vents and other small openings. These openings make it harder for the heating system to maintain a consistent temperature which leads to higher energy bills.
Most houses will have an entrance hole for electrical cables, gas lines and pipes somewhere in the home, whether in a crawl space, basement or even an attic. These holes are often caulked, but over time, the caulk will crack and deteriorate. Refresh the seal with new caulk to keep the heat in.
Another source of drafts are electrical outlets - especially those sitting on an exterior facing wall. To stop cold air from getting in, a foam gasket can be installed under the plate cover around the outside of the electrical box.
An efficiently-run home will save you money in the long run. These tips are often inexpensive and the savings will be well worth the work you put in.