Drafty windows. Leaky faucets. Dirty air filters. They’re not only annoying — they cause higher utility bills. But with a few tips, you can keep costs down.
Would you like to save $200 to $400 a year on your energy costs? That’s how much the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program estimates that homeowners can save by incorporating technologies to make their homes operate more efficiently.
Making your home more efficient can seem like an overwhelming task, but auditing your energy efficiency is something easy you can do yourself. It will show you where your home loses energy, how efficient your heating and cooling systems are, and ways you can decrease your electricity use. Inspect the areas listed here by the National Association of Home Builders and note the problems you find.
Find the leaks
Air commonly leaks from homes through gaps around baseboards, electrical outlets and windows or doors. Stopping these drafts can save up to 30 percent of your yearly energy costs. Be sure to check your home’s exterior as well, paying particular attention to areas where two different building materials meet. When you find leaks, seal them with caulk or weather stripping.
Don’t wait to insulate
Check to see if the amount of insulation in the ceiling and walls is sufficient. Your attic door should be insulated and close tightly. For walls, make a small hole in a closet or other inconspicuous place and probe into the wall with a screwdriver — the area should be completely filled with insulation.
Do a systems check.
Efficient heating and cooling systems can save you frustration as well as money. Make sure ducts and pipes are insulated properly, and have your equipment checked and cleaned by a professional each year. Filters for forced-air furnaces should be replaced as soon as they are dirty, or every 30 to 60 days.
Light your home efficiently
Lighting can account for up to 20 percent of your home’s total electricity use, so consider compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) bulbs, which last longer and use far less energy than incandescent bulbs.