With a growing emphasis on sustainability, energy efficiency is becoming increasingly important. Fortunately, improving your home’s energy efficiency isn’t as difficult (or expensive) as you may think. Here are four tips to help you cut costs without compromising comfort.
1. Add Insulation Heating and cooling account for roughly half of the average home’s energy costs. Adding insulation — particularly to your home’s attic and basement — can help you maintain a comfortable temperature and reduce expenses, even in newer homes.
As you heat your home, you will generally lose a large percentage of warm air through your attic. Properly insulating and venting your attic will help you keep warm air in. Likewise, insulating your basement will eliminate unwelcome jumps in energy costs — and it will help warm chilly floors too. If you have questions concerning the amount or type of insulation that’s right for your home, contact an insulation professional.
2. Address Leaks in Windows and Doors Poorly insulated windows and doors are the leading cause of air leakage in your home. Adding energy-efficient replacement windows will dramatically reduce your window-related losses. Consider the installation of double- or triple-paned windows in place of any single, leaky panes. Some high-performance, double- and triple-paned windows offer the same insulation value as an insulated wall.
If window replacements aren’t within your current budget, consider installing energy-efficient honeycomb blinds. Cellular, also known as honeycomb, blinds reduce heat transfer by trapping heated air and creating a temperature-controlled barrier between your home and your window’s surface. Honeycomb blinds come in a variety of designs and price ranges, making them attainable for most homes.
Doors will sometimes warp or loosen from their jambs, creating gaps that allow outside air in. If you’re noticing air leaks around your doors, consider adding weatherstripping or replacing doors. Installing new doors is a great way to increase both your home’s energy efficiency and its curb appeal.
3. Get a Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Checkup If your HVAC system is more than five years old, an efficiency checkup is a good idea. Hire a professional to perform an energy audit on your HVAC system. After your audit, your pro will be able to recommend ways to improve your HVAC’s performance. If you’re not ready to install a completely new system, an energy professional can suggest specific replacement parts or best practice behaviors to improve your home’s energy efficiency.
In addition to an energy audit, there are a few maintenance tricks that you can perform to keep your HVAC in good shape. Start by changing your air filter once every three months. Also, make sure that your HVAC components are clean — especially your condenser/compressor. Clear away any vegetation or debris within two feet of your unit.
4. Install a Smart Thermostat Smart thermostats can play a large role in creating an energy-efficient home. With a smart thermostat, you’ll be able to sync your thermostat with your daily work schedule, adjust the temperature of your home in real-time from your smart device, and even turn off the heat (or drop to a preset temperature) when you leave your home. The suite of tools built in to most smart thermostats will help you pinpoint and eliminate energy waste.
Ready for more good news? Smart thermostats are affordable — generally ranging between $100 and $250, depending on features.