Little Home Improvements that Can Save Cash
It's not hard to connect temperature changes to rising utility costs, and both summer and winter weather can take a toll on your household budget. Your home's comfort control equipment can account for approximately half of your annual energy expenses. You may be concerned that the only way to counter these costs is by investing in expensive system upgrades to increase your home's energy efficiency, or you may have resigned yourself to living on a tight budget during the heating and cooling seasons. However, there are several home improvements to consider that can help in reducing your energy usage.
You may view air conditioning and heating maintenance as simply a matter of changing your air filter from time to time. However, this is only a small aspect of the recommended maintenance plan for home comfort equipment. An annual inspection of your equipment allows for fine-tuning of moving parts and cleaning of parts that can restrict airflow and stress expensive central components. Your equipment can lose approximately 5 percent of its efficiency each year, but coil cleaning, refrigerant checks and lubrication of moving parts can reverse most of these effects.
Leaky air ducts can aggravate the energy loss that naturally occurs as air moves from your equipment through the tubes that lead to various spaces in your home. Leaky ducts may represent up to 40 percent of your home comfort expenses, and sealing air ducts can reduce this loss dramatically. Prior to your technician sealing air ducts, he will do a thorough inspection to ensure that there aren't areas of damage that require reconnecting or replacement of materials.
Duct cleaning can also help in improving your home's comfort levels, a factor that can reduce costs. Restricted airflow can stress your equipment and shorten the life of your system, leading to earlier replacement expenses. Cleaning your ducts every three to five years makes it possible to maintain an excellent flow of air as your equipment operates.
Pay Attention to Your Home's Envelope
There are several structural factors that can increase or decrease your home's energy performance during the heating and cooling seasons. While some fixes may be costly, most can be addressed with inexpensive materials and strategies. Examples include:
- Insulation upgrades - if the floor joists in your attic are visible, you can supplement the existing insulation to cover the joists. You don't want to completely fill your attic because good ventilation plays a critical role in preventing your roofing system and home from overheating. Rolls of insulation can be purchased at reasonable prices, making it possible to complete an upgrade without high labor costs. However, you can hire a contractor if you are unsure of your footing in the attic.
- Caulking small air leaks - check your windows, doors and other openings in your exterior walls for air leaks, using caulk or weather stripping to fill the gaps. Replace old or brittle materials with fresh caulk and weather stripping. According to experts, this step along with insulation upgrades may trim up to 10 percent from your home comfort expenses.
- Reduce heat gain and loss at windows - clear windows that are unglazed can account for up to 40 percent of a home's cooling energy in the summer, and even energy-efficient windows can represent 25 percent of the energy required for home comfort control. Window coverings offer a means of limiting the flow of heat into or out of the home. Options such as thermal curtains or blinds can be used as needed, closed at times to reduce energy loss and opened at other times to allow natural light into the home. Solar screens, shutters and awnings also offer methods for reducing these energy loss issues. Some of these window coverings can be extremely affordable.
Consider a Home Performance Evaluation
If you feel that a professional analysis of your home's energy usage would provide you with a better idea of how to best tackle your home's efficiency levels, a Comfort24-7 provider can conduct air pressure testing and use other methods to pinpoint leaks and calculate your home's heating and cooling loads. Our providers are highly trained and offer the latest solutions for a variety of home comfort concerns. Contact us to find an expert in your area today.
Written by Randy Gailit