7 Small Improvements for Massive Energy Efficiency Gains
Homeowners often assume that they have to make major renovations in order to increase the energy efficiency of their homes, but this simply isn’t true and sometimes the biggest gains come from the cumulative effect of many small improvements. Here are a few ideas and recommendations to enjoy massive energy efficiency gains:
- Begin With an Energy Audit
Every home is different. While we can provide a list of common upgrades that generally have a positive impact on the energy efficiency of homes, it’s impossible to know how much of an impact each one will have on your home without first evaluating the circumstances that are specific to your property. And that’s why we suggest beginning with an energy audit.
“An energy audit is an assessment of your home that takes a look at current energy consumption and then identifies energy efficiency measures that you can conduct to make your home more efficient,” EnergySage.com notes. “An energy auditor can assess where your home is losing the most energy, and then proposes improvements to make to help save energy – and reduce your utility bills.”
Energy audits aren’t typically very expensive. In some cases, your utility company might even offer to pay for the audit. (It helps them out, too!)
- Seal Air Leaks
One of the first things you’ll discover is that your home is full of air leaks. And while some leaks are good (allowing minimal transfer of air in and out of the home), too many leaks drive up heating and cooling costs.
Air leaks are commonly found around windows and doors. A combination of weatherstripping and caulking generally does the job. In more serious cases, you may need to replace a window or door.
- Replace Your Front Door
Speaking of replacing doors, the front door is where you’ll get the most bang for your buck. This is usually the largest door in the home and gets used quite frequently. When replacing an old door, look for Energy Star Certified products. These doors feature a tighter fit between door and frame, weatherstripping, a polyurethane foam core, and double- or triple-pane insulating glass.
- Add Insulation
Add insulation to your attic, exterior walls, and crawl space/basement to reduce unwanted exchange of hot or cold air into the home. Good insulation will keep your house warm in the winter and cool in the summer. (And the best part is that insulation is super inexpensive.)
If you have a pulldown attic door, an insulated attic tent can save you hundreds of dollars over just the first few years of use. (And if you install it yourself, you’ll usually break even within the first year of use.)
- Upgrade Appliances
Most people assume that they should hold on to appliances until they stop working, but this isn’t always the best strategy. If you have an appliance that’s 10-plus years old, it’s costing you money. By switching to an energy efficient model today, you’ll enjoy immediate savings on your monthly energy bills.
On a related note, you should know that refrigerators and freezers operate most efficiently when they’re full. Keep them full as much as possible to avoid overspending. (If you don’t have enough food to keep them full, use bags of ice in the freezer and water bottles in the refrigerator.)
- Swap Out Light Bulbs
Did you know that traditional incandescent and CFL light bulbs release around 80 to 90 percent of their energy as heat? Get rid of these energy-sucking bulbs and make the switch to LED bulbs. They’re 80 percent more efficient, last longer, and put off less heat than the alternatives.
- Upgrade Your Thermostat
Get rid of your old manual or programmable thermostat and upgrade to a smart thermostat that automatically modulates temperatures based on your schedule. (Note: Every degree of extra cooling or heating increases your energy usage by six to eight percent.)
Boost Your Home’s energy Efficiency
The goal of increasing energy efficiency is two-fold. First off, it lowers your property’s impact on the environment and helps promote a safer, more sustainable future. Secondly, it lowers your monthly energy costs. In some cases, implementing these simple suggestions can save homeowners thousands of dollars per year.
Remember to begin with an energy audit and then address as many of the vulnerabilities as you possibly can. Keep an eye on your utility bills in the months that follow and track the results. You should see greater efficiency and lower costs.
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