Taking some simple steps to conserve energy reduces the percentage of your monthly household budget spent on utility bills. Your family will also be helping protect the environment by conserving energy resources. Here are some energy saving tips to make your home more energy efficient.
- If you have a gas furnace, consider installing a programmable thermostat. In the winter, program the thermostat so that the temperature is about 68 degrees F when you are home and at about 55 degrees when no one is at home. If you have an electric heat pump, don’t set the heat pump back more than 2 degrees while you are away, or the heat pump will expend a lot of energy using its backup heating source to return the temperature to 68 degrees when you return. Keeping the furnace or heat pump well-maintained ensures that it runs efficiently, so schedule a ‘tune up’ if it has been more than a year since your heating system had one. Change your filters every three months, or as soon as they look black and dirty. This keeps the air flowing well through your heating system and your furnace running efficiently.
- Check for leaks around windows, doors, and pipes. Caulk gaps that are allowing the cold air to rush in around windows and pipes, and install new weather stripping if there are gaps around your exterior doors.
- Unplug appliances and electronics when you are not using them. If they are plugged in, they are still using electricity. Electronics and computers are especially large consumers of energy when plugged in and in ‘stand by’ mode.
- If you have some older appliances, consider replacing them with new Energy Star Certified appliances. This is especially important for high-usage appliances like refrigerators, washers, and dryers. Maximize the energy savings by running your washer, dryer, and dishwasher only when you have a full load.
If your energy bill has been extremely high so far this winter, your attic may not be insulated properly.
Add insulation to your attic. If you don’t have enough insulation in your attic or your attic is not insulated at all, heat will escape through the ceilings and the roof of your home. This means that even if you have already installed a programmable thermostat and are doing a good job of keeping it at about 68 degrees F during the day, your heating system will have to still work hard to replace the lost energy. One sign that you don’t have enough insulation is drafty rooms that never seem to be the same temperature as other rooms in the house.
Adding insulation is a moderately difficult project that you could do yourself or could hire a contractor to complete. However, before you start, make sure that all air leaks in the attic have been sealed up, as they will only undermine your effort. If you have insulation there already, inspect it to make sure it is not compressed or water-damaged. Compressed and water-damaged insulation will not longer do its job and will need to be replaced. Measure the area that needs to be insulated and also measure the depth of any current insulation that is not damaged and will be left in place. Next, decide if you want to use the batts of insulation that comes in rolls or would like install the blown or sprayed insulation. Installing batts can be done manually but sprayed or blown insulation required special machines. In our area, the insulation in your attic should have an R value of 30 to 60. Online resources may be used to calculate how much insulation you need to add, based on the depth of the existing insulation. Use a mask when handling fiberglass insulation. You will need to insulate lighting fixtures to keep the insulating from touching them.