When it comes to home improvements, you shouldn’t just think of ones that enhance the beauty or value of your home. You should also consider upgrades that save you money in the long run, like energy efficiency. This is because even if your home is new, you could be leaking money from it. According to the United States Department of Energy, of the $2,000 that the average citizen pays for energy bills every year, about $200 to $400 are wasted because of inefficient cooling systems, air leaks, drafts, and more.
Another culprit in energy efficiency is home size. Pew Research found that although homes have become significantly more efficient than before, they’ve also doubled in size, which counteracts the energy efficiency that modern fittings and appliances have. A larger space means that there’s more room for HVAC systems to cool or heat and lighting systems to brighten.
Inefficient homes are also worse for the environment. This is because when your house uses more power, it causes energy companies to create more harmful emissions to provide the energy you need. So, what are the upgrades you can do to make your home more energy efficient?
Get a Better Thermostat
If you still use a manual thermostat, you’re missing out on possible optimization features that programmable ones have. Programmable or even smart thermostats have special sensors that measure the temperature of a room an adjusts your HVAC system to automatically cool down or heat up according to your desired temp. Smart thermostats even allow you to change temperatures and schedule cooldowns or heat-ups straight from your smartphone or tablet. Not only is it efficient, but it’s also convenient.
Upgrade Your Doors and Windows
A convenient and affordable way to upgrade your doors and windows is to replace their worn-out weatherstripping or caulk. After years of opening and closing your doors and windows, these materials will eventually break down and thin out, causing more air to leak into and out of your home. When this happens, your HVAC system has to work harder to keep your ideal temperature constant. Fresh caulk and weatherstripping create a tight seal between your door and its jambs, and your window and its frame, keeping air in during warmer days and out during colder ones.
If you want a more impactful upgrade, consider replacing your windows and doors. Old, single-pane windows offer poor insulation. Even the best seals won’t be able to keep cold air in. Get yours replaced with double-pane windows. These contain two pieces of glass separated by air. This construction slows down heat transfer on both sides, allowing for better insulation of your home. They’re also more durable than their single-pane counterparts.
If your doors are starting to rot and let air in, replacing them with a new one is definitely worth it. A wooden door that fits your jambs perfectly is great. However, if you want maximum energy efficiency, you should consider getting one in fiberglass or steel. The DOE says that these materials provide good R-values. This means that they can resist heat flow better than other materials. A one and a half-inch thick fiberglass or steel door can provide five times the insulation of a solid wood door of the same dimensions, according to the agency.
Update Your Insulation
If your house has been with you for a while, you should definitely consider inspecting its insulation. An easy way to do this is to make your way into the attic. There, you should see puffy fiberglass material in between the joists. If they’re in level or even cover, the joists, you definitely have enough insulation. If they start creeping below the wood, however, you need to get them replaced or at least add more.
When it comes to insulation materials, you have a wide variety of options. However, if you want to get the most out of your current one, loose-fill/blown-in or sprayed foam are your best choice. They offer great R-values, but they can also be used to fill out existing insulation.
Get Energy-Star-certified Appliances
When you’re buying appliances, especially those that stay on for long periods of time, look for the Energy Star sticker. Energy Star is a government-backed initiative to provide simple and unbiased-information about the energy efficiency of appliances. To get an Energy Star certification, devices must meet strict criterias set by the DOE and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Apart from your water heater repair, consider replacing it with Energy Star-certified gas storage or heat pump-type ones. The same goes for the rest of your HVAC system and power-hungry appliances like refrigerators.
Besides proper energy saving practices, you should also consider making efficient upgrades to help lower your bills further. These improvements allow you to put less stress on your HVAC system and use less energy in general. You won’t just save money, but you’ll also help in saving the environment.