Where Can you Save the Most on your Home Energy Bills?
We are always looking for savings, on our grocery bill, on our clothes, and even making cleaners from household items instead of paying for them at the store. There are more ways to save at home than just making your own cleaners or growing your own vegetables. Energy efficient improvements can be found all over your home, from big to small fixes and returns, and all of them pay for themselves in the savings on your energy bill.
Some of these improvements include:
- Installing a programmable thermostat
- Changing out windows, or installing storm windows
- Replacing appliances
- Changing out light bulbs
- Upgrading insulation
But where do you start? Where will you get the most bang for your buck?
If you home has not been air sealed, then consider starting here. Epically in the attic. The attic is where you lose most of the air you pay to heat and cool. Then air seal your basement or crawl space where cold air enters your home. Don’t forget around windows and doors. Homes, are by nature, leaky. Air comes in and goes out through gaps and cracks around windows and doors, and plumbing and electrical outlets. Many of these gaps are a natural result of constructing a home. Sealing all the cracks in your home helps give it a tighter seal, this means that the air you are paying to heat and cool stays in your living space, and doesn’t escape through the numerous openings. Air sealing should always occur before adding insulation. How much can air sealing save you? Energy Star estimates that properly insulating and air sealing your home can save up to 15%. https://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=home_sealing.hm_improvement_methodology
A natural next step would be to add to or replace the insulation in your attic and crawl space. Again, your attic should be the first priority as heat rises. In the crawl space, traditional fiberglass batts that are stuffed underneath the
floor sag and fall over time. Without touching the surface the batts are supposed to be insulating, the already fibrous material is even less effective. Finally, consider what insulation is, or is not in your walls. Adding insulation to exterior walls can help keep them warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. This means less heat transfer through the walls.
Sealing and insulating your duct work is the next step. Often people think their HVAC runs so much because it is old, or needs replacing. Often, the problem can be that duct work has gaps and cracks in it and has been left uninsulated. Uninsulated ducts sitting in a hot attic in the summer, are being heated up to 100 degrees or more. This means all that cold air that is being pumped through them is instantly getting warmed up and even creating condensation on your ducts. Ducts with cracks and gaps allow conditioned air to escape and dust and allergens to enter your system. In both situations, by the time conditioned air reaches all the rooms in your house, it has been warmed up, and isn’t cooling your home down, and gaps reduce the pressure and amount of air coming through your vents. All of this results in your HVAC unit running more and your energy bill increasing.
If your HVAC unit or water heater needs replacing (usually if they are 10-20 years old depending on the equipment) replace them with more modern, energy-efficient units. It is also possible if you have already sealed and insulated your home effectively that you may be able to downsize your equipment. But you will certainly need to consult an HVAC professional before making that decision. Replacing with energy efficient units can save between 10-20%.
All of these solutions will result in big returns on your energy bills, and will most certainly pay for themselves. You can even ask the company that performs these upgrades to do pre and post testing so that you can measure just how effective the upgrades have been. But the savings don’t stop here.
Changing out light bulbs for energy efficient ones, or replacing your appliances with energy star certified appliances, and replacing windows can help with your energy bills, but likely won’t pay for themselves, like some of the larger projects will.