There are a lot of different ways to save energy at home. We’ve culled through many of them and chosen the best ones for this collection. These tips are easy to implement, won’t cost much (if anything) and will definitely save you money on your heating bills.
An energy audit includes a series of tests,
including the blower door pressure test
(shown), that tell you the efficiency of
your heating and cooling system and the
overall efficiency of your home. On the
basis of the test results, the auditor will
recommend low-cost improvements
to save energy and larger
upgrades that will pay you back
within five to seven years.
Audits take two to three hours
and cost $250 to $400, but if
you set one up through your
utility company, you may be
eligible for a rebate.
To find out where warm air is escaping
into your attic, look in your attic for insulation
that has darkened (the result of filtering
dirty air from the house). In cold
weather, you might even see frosty areas in
the insulation caused by warm, moist air
condensing and freezing as it hits the cold
attic air. For step-by-step information about
sealing attic leaks, visit familyhandman.com and
search “seal air leaks.”
According to energy experts, electrical boxes that hold switches
or outlets are major sources of heat loss.
Foam gaskets ($3 for a pack of 12 at home
centers) won’t completely seal the boxes,
but they’ll help. They’re quick to install—
just take off the cover plate, stick the gasket
over the box, then put the plate back on.
Sealing leaky joints in heating ducts is easy, cheap,
and can reduce your energy costs by hundreds of dollars a years.
Simply buy aluminum-colored silicone caulk and caulk every joint
in rectangular ductwork (clean the joints first with a household
spray cleaner and a rag to remove dust). Use the caulk to seal around
the take-off boots to each branch run. Buy high-temperature UL181
aluminum foil tape in the duct section of a home center and use that to seal the joints of round ductwork.
Insulating your exposed hot water pipes reduces heat loss
and helps deliver hotter water at a lower temperature setting.
Insulate all accessible hot water pipes within 3 feet of your water heater
using quality pipe insulation or a pipe sleeve.
Place the pipe sleeve so the seam is face down on the pipe
and use aluminum foil tape to secure the insulation to the pipe every foot or so.
On gas water heaters, keep pipe insulation at least 6 inches from the flue.
Wood-burning fireplaces can warm up a room,
but more often, they rob a house of heat by letting
it escape up the chimney. If you have a
modern fireplace with a cold air intake from
outside, make sure you equip it with an airtight
door. If you have an older fireplace that uses
room air for combustion, equip it with a door
that has operable vents. And only keep those
vents open when you have a fire in the fireplace.
Otherwise, heat will constantly be sucked out of
Sill plates and rim joists are usually poorly insulated (if at all)
and very leaky. So if you have an unfinished basement, grab
some silicone or acrylic latex caulk to seal the sill plate. If you
simply have fiberglass insulation stuffed against the rim joist,
pull it out. Run a bead of caulk between the edge of the sill
plate and the top of the foundation wall. Use expanding spray
foam anywhere there are gaps larger than 1/4 in. between the
sill and the foundation.
Storm windows aren’t new, but they’re definitely improved:
New ones open and close and can be left on year-round. Some
offer low-emissivity coatings to further cut heat loss.
You can use low-e versions even if your windows already
have a low-e coating. You’ll see the biggest payback
when they’re used over single-pane windows. But don’t
use storm windows over aluminum windows—heat
buildup between the two windows can damage the
aluminum, and drilling holes for installation can cause leaks.
Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.
Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here's a list.
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