(ARA) - Homeowners expect to get a bill from their utility company each month, but opening one for a particularly expensive month can be a real shocker. If your bills seem consistently higher than what they should be, it's time to look for hidden energy drains and consider some changes that can make a huge difference.
Consider these home improvement solutions to take a huge bite out of your energy bill:
Tip 1: Assess the roof
The sun's rays beat down on your roof, increasing the temperature in your entire house. Your air conditioner has to work hard to counteract these intense temperatures and that means a high energy bill. The best way to defend your home from this type of heat is to install a radiant barrier in your attic, especially if your AC unit or ductwork is present.
A radiant barrier, such as Enerflex, reduces heat transfer between your roof and the attic floor where insulation is typically installed. Enerflex can reflect up to 96 percent of the radiant heat energy from the sun back through your roof, making your attic space up to 30 degrees cooler. A cooler attic leads to a more comfortable and consistent temperature throughout your home and a decreased workload on your air conditioner and other appliances. This also leads to a lower utility bill.
Tip 2: Look for leaks
No matter what time of year it is, having even small leaks in your windows or doors is like letting money, literally, float away. Just an 1/8-inch crack all the way around a doorway creates the same air loss as a 6-inch square hole in the middle of your door, according to the Edison Electric Institute.
There are various ways to check for window and door leaks, from holding a candle flame near the crack and gauging how much the flame moves to sliding a piece of paper through the opening to see if it catches or tears. If you find a leak, the easiest solution is to add weather-stripping around doors and to caulk windows. Remember to check once a year to see if any repairs or replacements are needed.
Tip 3: Swap the bulbs
You've likely heard plenty about switching to more energy efficient light bulbs, but maybe you're not sure if it really makes a difference. Consider this: homes that use Energy Star-qualified light bulbs use about 75 percent less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs and they last at least six times longer.
Additionally, an incandescent lamp is really more of a heater than a light, with nearly 90 percent of the input energy being converted and lost in waste heat rather than light, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. All those little heaters warm up your home fast and you have to turn on fans and your air conditioner to regulate the temperature. Switch your light bulbs and the savings will follow.
Keeping energy bills low is a challenge, but with the right strategies you can reduce your bill and help the environment, a win-win for everyone.