When homeowners hear the words “energy efficiency,” it’s easy to associate them with dollar signs. Improving your home’s efficiency, however, doesn’t always have to mean replacing expensive heating equipment. Here’s what you can do to promote a greener home and keep a few more dollars in your pocket at the same time.
- Tweak the furnace. Neglecting the furnace causes it to run much less efficiently – regardless of its age. So if your furnace is just three years old but you don’t maintain it, you’ll pay more in operating costs. This year, schedule a tune-up to keep the furnace free of dirt buildup that can slow down airflow and promote higher energy consumption, driving up energy bills.
- Seal it up. Air leaks wreak havoc in the home. When there are cracks and gaps around windows and doors, for example, the heat that your furnace generates escapes from the home. Sealing the leaks with caulk or weatherstripping will not only make your home warmer, but you’ll spend less on energy bills, too.
- Insulate it. Not sure if your home is well insulated? It’s worth having an expert evaluate the walls and attic. If your home is lacking insulation in these key spaces, you’ll be feeling it – or the lack of warmth – inside your home. Energy loss will occur in the walls if they contain insulation that is old, worn out or under code. Ramping up insulation to keep heat inside will pay off for years to come, because today’s insulation contractors employ innovative installation techniques to avoid damaging the home to install the material, which helps to keep the costs low. As an added bonus, when summer comes back around, your home will be tight as a drum and ready to keep cool air inside.
- Use free heat. From the sun, that is. Without investing a single dollar in tune-ups or weatherstripping, you can save on heating costs just by keeping your drapes open during the day. The sun shining into the home generates quite a bit of heat, especially on the south and west sides of the home. So take advantage of Mother Nature’s gift to you.
Winter and energy efficiency do work together, in spite of the cold weather. But there’s no need to invest thousands of dollars in the systems around your home to get better performance. With a tweak to the furnace and sealing up leaks, you’ll lower energy costs without having to do anything crazy like setting up a wind turbine on your property. Take advantage of the sun’s energy and keep the heat inside the home with improved insulation in the walls and attic.
Anita Alvarez covers home improvement, energy efficiency and green living as a regular contributor to national publications like Green Living Ideas, Popular Mechanics, Angie’s List and Murphy Oil Soap. You’ll find her testing recipes and going for walks with her husband in her free time.