Most people love saving money when they can. A couple of bucks here and a few bucks there can add up quickly, especially when the savings come from ongoing payments such as your home’s energy bill.
The best way to save money when it comes to energy consumption is to install a high-efficiency furnace in your home. The savings to be had in the long term are huge, even when you factor in the up-front costs of purchase and installation.
However, there are other ways to save money when it comes to energy consumption, and we offer these ideas as relatively inexpensive projects that won’t take a lot of time, but will start saving you money as soon as they’re completed.
Five ways to cut energy consumption costs around your house
1. The first idea is one that probably popped into your head the second you read this was an article about how to save energy, and that’s weather stripping for your windows and doors.
Weather stripping will definitely help, especially if you’re one of those people who spent the summer eyeballing that small sliver of sunlight that ran across your foyer as a result of a gap between one of your exterior doors and its doorjamb.
You know who you are, because every time you saw it you said to yourself, “I must get some weather stripping before winter sets in.” Well, winter’s here and your furnace is running, so what are you waiting for?
All kidding aside, it’s time to plug those gaps around doors and windows that are doing nothing but costing you money. Weather stripping is inexpensive, easy to apply, and requires no tools except perhaps a knife and a scraper (to remove old stripping cleanly), so you have no excuses.
Even if the sun’s not shining to provide telltale slivers of light, you can easily find the gaps… just run your hand around the edge of any door or window and feel where the cool air is coming in.
2. Check the insulation in your attic and your crawlspace. It’s not as easy to check insulation in the walls, but the quality and amount of insulation in your attic and crawlspace can be determined with a simple visual inspection.
Find out from a local insulation installer how much, and what kind of insulation is required and/or recommended by the building code in your community, and then determine whether your home meets those standards by having a look. All you’ll need tool-wise is a tape measure to gauge the thickness of the insulation.
Once you have the pertinent information, you can assess whether you need more insulation to help cut costs. Insulation is relatively inexpensive, and definitely helps cut energy consumption, so it’s worth the expenditure in the long run.
Depending on the type of insulation you have, it can be pretty easy to install. If you have blown insulation, you’ll probably want to hire a contractor, but if you have fiberglass insulation battens, then you can do the job yourself with little hassle… if you’re so inclined.
3. Check your heating and air ducts. Again, it’s not easy to check the ones buried in walls and false ceilings, but if you have any that are exposed check to see if they’re letting warm air escape. If they are, they’re costing you money. Seal the leaks (in case you didn’t know, this is original purpose of duct tape) and then insulate the ducts to help preserve the heat that flows through them. Even if you can’t get to all the ductwork to insulate it, taking care of the parts that are exposed can go a long way to saving your hard-earned cash, especially if those exposed bits are in attics or crawlspaces that have no heating source.
Bonus note: It wouldn’t hurt to insulate your hot water tank, as well. It’s the same principle, and it really does save energy.
4. If you don’t already have them, consider installing programmable thermostats. If you have them, use them. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, simply setting your thermostat to run seven to 10 degrees cooler for eight hours a day (when you’re asleep… hint, hint) can save you upwards of 10 percent in energy costs per year. If that’s too drastic a swing in temperatures, five degrees or even three or four degrees can make a nice impact on the energy consumption bill.
Unless you really know what you’re doing, this is a job for a professional, so don’t attempt this as a do-it-yourself project because the downside (an improperly functioning heating system) is too great.
Bonus note: Every degree you turn down that thermostat is money in the bank, so set it to a comfortable temperature… and then turn it down one or two degrees. You can make up for the “sudden drop in temperature” with a light sweater.
5. Consider installing storm windows in your home to add a layer of air insulation at each window. You can have a professional do this (probably a good idea if you’re going for a permanent installation), or you can do it yourself if you’re handy. Plastic film window kits are relatively inexpensive, and can even be installed on the inside of your windows to save you having to do the job in the cold.
Investing a bit of time and money in these energy saving ideas can save you plenty of money down the road. The beauty of each of these projects is that they start paying for themselves immediately, and provide a warmer, more energy-efficient home.
Oh, and don’t forget, if you need professional help with any home plumbing or heating job, Pete the Plumber is ready to help, because we are your plumbing and heating superhero.