With the winter looming just around the corner, your home’s energy efficiency starts to weigh heavily not only in terms of being green from the environmental, personal, and social perspective, but it is becoming increasingly important because of very high heating costs.
In this guide I am going to present some fairly easy to implement ideas on how to increase your home’s energy efficiency on a budget.
Home Insulation Ideas
If your home was built before 1970s, then it is very likely that it does not have sufficient levels of insulation, which results in unnecessary heat loss. Many states now offer some very attractive home insulation programs, grants and rebates. For instance, the state of Massachusetts, my home state, provides a 75% tax credit rebate on energy efficient insulation up to $2000.00 (year 2011).
There are many similar programs in other states, and taking advantage of similar energy efficient insulation rebate programs will put money back in your pocket, and reduce your heating and cooling costs. Additionally, it will also increase the saleability of your home, reduce the chance of your heating pipes bursting in the winter, reduce cold air drafts, and make your home a more comfortable place for you and your family.
Going back to older homes built before 1970s, if you happen to live in one, chances are that your loft or attic insulation is not sufficiently insulated and ventilated. This is a common reason for ice dams on the roof in the winter and costly roof, walls, and insulation damages that may not necessarily be covered by homeowners insurance.
You can better insulate your attic by locating air leaks, and applying a caulk sealant to stop the unwanted air leaks. You can feel for these air leaks with your hand, or buy a special tool for detecting thermal leaks in your home at your local home improvement store. Another alternative would be having a professional home energy audit performed in your house, which would give you a complete report outlining locations where energy loss due to insufficient insulation and air leaks occurs.
You can then follow up on recommendations of the home energy audit report, and have a contractor insulate and seal poorly insulated, and poorly sealed areas in your house for you. If you are into DIY and want to save some money, you can tackle these issues yourself with the help of specialty sealants, and attic insulation bats.
Having a sufficiently insulated and properly ventilated attic will help prevent ice dams on your roof. Being prepared for cold storms with a properly insulated home can save a ton of money and headaches from having to deal with busted pipes and ice dams damage in the winter. Trust me on this!
If you plan on having a new roof installed any time soon, then consider replacing the old one with an energy efficient metal roofing system, which will help reduce your cooling costs in the summer, and help stop ice dams in the winter.
You can have your walls insulated with a blown in insulation, or you can have more insulation put in, if you are planning to install new siding on your house some time in the near future. Obviously, blown insulation is much easier and less costly than ripping apart your sheet rock to install a cavity wall insulation, but if you are doing a complete remodel of certain rooms in your home, and you are taking off old sheet rock, then you can have your wall cavities insulated during this time. Although, in all honesty ripping off your old sheet rock, or plaster and installing a new one is a messy and expensive way to do it.
Simple Way to Insulate Windows for the Winter
If you do not quite have the money to replace your old windows with energy efficient ones, then you can install a special film over them.This will reduce the cold air drafts, keep your rooms warmer and save money on reduced heating bills.
If you have already implemented all of the above measures, and are ready for the next step, consider replacing your old oil burner with an energy efficient gas heating system. Once again, there may be some good rebates available when you choose to upgrade your heating system with a 92 to 96% energy efficient gas burner. The cost of gas is less than the cost of oil, and having an energy efficient burner will further reduce your heating costs in the winter. You can also install energy efficient gas-powered hot water burners to reduce the cost of heating water in your home.
Other energy efficient modifications to consider include: LED lighting, low flow faucets, shower heads and dual flush toilets that will conserve water year round.