Cold winters and hot, humid summers can result in high energy costs for homeowners in Chicagoland and the surrounding communities. However, homeowners can substantially decrease their utility costs by making simple home energy upgrades, many of which may be done without the use of a professional.
Among the most important home energy upgrades is air sealing. Much of a home's heating and cooling costs are due to heat loss through gaps and openings in the home. To seal your home, carefully inspect both the interior and exterior, looking for gaps, cracks and openings.
Common areas of air leakage are around windows and doors, and where two types of building materials meet. When gaps are found, seal them using caulk or weatherstripping. Typically, caulk is used to fill small gaps around windows, and areas where pipes and utilities penetrate the building envelope. Weatherstripping should be used on and around moving components, such as doors and some windows.
Water Heater Temperature
One of the most overlooked home energy upgrades is adjusting the water heater temperature. Traditional water heaters work by constantly maintaining the temperature of the water in the tank. This is done 24 hours a day, even if the hot water isn't being used. Furthermore, the higher the temperature is set on the water heater, the more energy is needed to heat and maintain the water temperature.
Lowering the temperature even a few degrees can generate substantial energy savings. Chances are, the individuals in the home won't notice a difference. Also, lowering the hot water temperature has the added benefit of reducing the likelihood of injury by scalding.
Energy is commonly wasted when a home is maintained at the same temperature even when no one's home to enjoy it. A programmable thermostat can reduce energy costs by automatically raising or lowering the temperature while the home is unoccupied. Then, immediately before you're scheduled to return, the system automatically returns your home to your desired temperature. The home can run more efficiently and the homeowner doesn't experience any change in indoor air comfort.
Adding or improving home insulation can substantially reduce heat loss or gain. Installing adequate insulation can generate energy savings of nearly double the expense of making the home energy upgrade. Homeowners should first look at the insulation in the attic. If insulation isn't present, it should be added, whether by a knowledgeable homeowner or a trusted professional. Improving the insulation of finished walls may be more difficult and may require the assistance of an experienced HVAC technician.
The appliances in your home account for much of the home's energy usage. Major appliances such as the refrigerator run all day, and an inefficient refrigerator will work harder and use more energy to maintain the necessary temperature to keep food cold. An older refrigerator will have to work harder in order to maintain the temperature once the door has been opened.
One way to test the efficiency of your refrigerator is by checking the door seal. To do this, insert a dollar bill in the door, then close it. If the seal isn't strong enough to hold the dollar in place, it's time to consider more efficient options. Consider replacing a refrigerator with a new, energy efficient model. The savings generated by the decreased energy usage may pay for the cost of the new appliance in just a few years.
The same may also be said for the home’s water heater and furnace. When looking at options for these appliances, it's important to consider both the energy efficiency and the type of fuel used. Because of the going rate of energy versus natural gas, simply changing from electric powered systems to gas fueled options can generate significant energy savings.
Learn more about home energy upgrades from the pros at Comfort 24-7.com or contact us today at 855-GET-COMFY to find a quality HVAC technician for your home!