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One of the big buzz words among homeowners today is “Energy Efficiency.” It seems that we’ve collectively realized that we lose a lot of energy, which translates to a lot of money, due to inefficient building materials, building practices, and lack of proper maintenance. However, there are a lot of ways that you can make your home more efficient and save money! In this post we’re going to tell you about some great, cheap and easy ways to do this (in later posts we will cover more in depth strategies such as window replacement and advanced insulation).
Stewart Construction’s Top Ten Easy Ways to Save:
1. Home Energy Check:Get a FREE Progress Energy Home Energy Check done to your house. A Progress Energy representative will physically come to your house, absolutely free, and conduct a thorough energy inspection walk-thru to evaluate the efficiency of your home. Not only will they check for most of the following points we’re about to list, but once you have this initial inspection they offer rebates and incentives for you if you perform any of the repairs they recommend. Visit Progress Energy’s web site to get all of the information (and a phone number to schedule a walk-thru).
2. Leaky Ductwork: An astounding amount of energy is lost due to leaky ductwork in your HVAC system. If there are leaks in ducts located in your attic, or a leaky air-handler in your garage, you could be paying to cool this unconditioned spaces! It pays to have your ductwork checked by a professional and then repair any leaks.
3. Attic Insulation: Virtually all homes have insulation in the attic, but over time it can develop gaps and holes. These gaps and holes effectively negate the rest of the insulation in your attic because they remove the buffer between conditioned space (the living area of your home) and unconditioned space (the attic). This allows heat transfer, which in turn causes your HVAC system to have to work harder and longer. Check to make sure there aren’t any holes or gaps in your attic insulation and if there are, fill them with new insulation!
4. Properly Sealing Windows: Windows that don’t seal right will leak all of the air that you just paid to heat or cool right out into the great outdoors! An easy way to check and see if your windows are sealing correctly is to make sure they open and close fully, feel for any air flow around the edges (if your HVAC system is running you will need to be on the outside of the window to feel any possible airflow). If they aren’t sealing correctly, you can often fix the problem by replacing the weatherstripping, which is a relatively cheap and easy solution.
5. Leaking Doors:Doors can leak? Lots of times people don’t realize that plumbing isn’t the only thing that leaks in their home. Exterior doors, much like windows, can leak air around the edges. You can check for leaks in a way similar to windows. Just shut the door and check the weatherstripping all around the door frame to see if it is properly sealing or if leaks are present. If there are leaks, they can be easily fixed by simply replacing the weatherstripping.
6. Attic Venting:Check that vents located in your attic are functioning. If you have vents that are not working (such as a whirlybird that is no longer spinning) it can keep excess heat in the attic and make it harder for your house to be cooled.
7. Washer and Dryer Location:Your washer and dryer produce a lot of heat. If it is at all possible, place them in an unconditioned space (like the garage) to save money on cooling your home.
8. Garage Insulation:You can waste a lot of money running your HVAC system if there is no insulation in your garage. You should ensure that there is some form of insulation between the garage (or any other unconditioned space) and the rest of your house. A garage can easily account for 10% or more of the square footage area of your home, so think of the money you can save by making sure you aren’t air conditioning it!
9. Caulk Around Windows:Confirming that your windows themselves don’t leak is great, but you can go one step further by caulking around the window frame as well. This creates a barrier between your home and the outside air, and fills in any cracks that could be leaking air. In our opinion, if done well, it will also make your windows look more aesthetically pleasing.
10. Dripping Faucets:A leaking faucet can waste up to 500 gallons of water PER WEEK! Check your plumbing fixtures regularly and don’t delay on repairing them.