(Family Features) Making improvements around the house to curb your energy usage is not only good for the environment, it can make a big impact on your utility bills, too.
Energy-efficient appliances are a good starting point as you work to reduce your home’s overall energy usage. Depending on local tax laws, you may also qualify for tax incentives for these purchases.
There are also relatively simple DIY projects you can do around the house to improve energy conservation. Most can be accomplished with minimal experience and a small investment in tools and supplies.
Seal air leaks. Gaps around windows, doors and other openings are major contributors to wasted energy. In the winter, they let cold air in, making your furnace work harder. Conversely, in the summer, cool air escapes and forces your air conditioner to pull extra duty. In most cases, weather stripping or caulking will provide the seal you need. Larger gaps may require low-expansion foam or even some minor drywall work. Remember to pay careful attention to the attic and basement, which can account for unexpected sources of energy loss.
Sealing the underside of a door can pose a special challenge. If replacing your threshold is impractical or your threshold is not adjustable, a door bottom or sweep may effectively keep out unwanted drafts. These options install directly on the door, eliminating the need to tinker with the threshold itself or remove the door for more significant alterations.
Update insulation. Deteriorating or minimal insulation, found especially in older homes, can also make it difficult to effectively manage your home’s temperature. While spray foam is a tempting solution that results in significantly less impact to your walls, it can be tricky for a novice to install correctly. What’s more, most professionals recommend removing any old insulation before adding the new, so at least some impact to the walls is unavoidable.
A more simple and effective choice is fiberglass batts or rolls, which can be easily cut to size and fit between studs and beams. While this approach will require sheetrock removal and re-installation, it’s also one of the lowest cost options for insulation replacement.
Regulate temperatures. Over time, thermostats can become less sensitive, leading to inaccuracies and wasted energy. Installing a new programmable thermostat is a cheap, easy fix. Choose a model that allows you to adjust temperature settings relative to your usage, saving energy and eliminating paying for cooled or heated air when you’re not home to enjoy it.
For example, during the day in the summer, program your system to maintain a temperature five to 10 degrees higher than is comfortable when you’re at home. Then set it to bring that temperature down to your preferred level starting approximately 30 minutes to an hour before you arrive home from work.
With a little sweat and meager investment in home projects such as these, you can net big savings in both energy efficiency and money.