A few years ago we were able to take advantage of a state energy rebate. We had an energy rating on our home, made the improvements suggested, then had another energy rating. Our home improved from a three star rating to a four star plus. We qualified for over $4000 back from our state and our electricity and gas bills were substantially reduced. Here are tips that all homeowners can take advantage of to make their home more energy efficient.
As home owners, the decision to have a home energy audit was one of the smartest decisions my husband and I have ever made. Our home was built in 1982, and there were a few things we needed to do to reduce the drafts and make our home more air tight. At first, the “To-do-list” was a bit overwhelming, but one by one we got the job done.
As a result our home is much more energy efficient and our natural gas and electric bills were drastically reduced. We are on the “Even Pay” method with our utility bills, and for months we had a negative balance of over $600 on our gas bill alone. We have gas appliances and have really noticed the savings. Likewise, our electricity bill was substantially reduced.
Remember, even small improvements can help make your home more energy efficient, so start now and do what you can afford. You can always do a few things each year as funds become available, and soon you will upgrade your homes energy rating. A higher rating will not only lower your utility bills, but it will also improve the market value of your home should you ever decide to sell.
Polystyrene Foam Insulation
We purchased several cans of foam insulation at our local Lowe’s store. We removed all of the baseboards (or trim) along the outside walls of our home and sprayed the insulation where the wall and floors met. This foam is messy and hard to get off of carpeting or clothing, so we used newspapers to protect our floors as we went along.
As you press the dispenser button the foam will come out quickly and it will expand a fair amount. If you spray out too much foam insulation you can always wait until it is dry and cut off the excess with a sharp knife.
Draft Guard Window Insulation Kits
We have not used this kind of window insulation since we have been in our home, but when we lived in a mobile home we used it on all of our windows. The box contains clear plastic sheeting which is taped around windows. Once it is in place, you then take a hairdryer and blow hot air all over the plastic surface. As you do this, the plastic will shrink and all of those wrinkles will miraculously disappear!
The finished look is not quite as clear as looking through your glass windows, but it really is not too bad. I have noticed more and more businesses using this type of window insulation, and it surely beats the high cost of window replacement.
Garage Door Insulation
Even though our garage door is made of insulated fiberglass, we were told there was leakage through our garage door. Large home improvement stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot sell these kits. If you have a two car garage you will need two kits. When finisged these kits can give you five times more insulation than an uninsulated (wood) garage door, and you can install them yourselves.
Window and Door Insulation Strips
Many stores sell foam and felt insulation strips that can be placed around the inside casings of doors and windows. I personally have used both, and prefer the felt strips over foam. The foam versions have an adhesive backing, but after one winter ours were coming off. Instead I used the felt strips and tacked them down with a light duty staple gun.
Now that these are installed I feel fewer cold drafts (which means less hot air is excaping). There is much less cold air coming in, and our doors fit tighter as well, meaning our home is more air tight.
Wall Plate and Outlet Insulation Sealers
Putting foam insulation sealers in our outlets and wall plates on all exterior walls was one of the cheapest upgrades we made. This might seem like a no brainer, but if you place your hand next to an uninsulated outlet you will be amazed by how much cold air could be coming thorough it.
Kits can be purchased that contain a wide variety of foam insulating gaskets for outlets and switches. If you can’t find a size for your outlet, you can cut and combine these gaskets to fit. They cut easily using a simple pair of scissors. They fit tightly around outlets and switches and seal out drafts.
Safety Outlet Plugs
Safety Outlet Plugs not only make your home safer if you have a toddler in your home, but they also help prevent cold drafts from coming in through those holes. These are cheap and can be installed in mere seconds.
Brush Door Sweeps
When I read that our energy audit was suggesting we place door sweeps on our doors, I was a bit surprised. My husband placed rubber style door sweeps on our front and laundry room doors years ago, but they didn’t hold up and ended up tearing.
That is where the beauty of a brush style door sweep comes in! These strips come in metal, plastic and wood, but they all have a soft and thick brush at the base which covers the bottom of your outside doors and keeps the cold air out. Not only will these keep your home warmer, but hte brush style won’t scratch or harm your floors and they don’t freeze in cold winter months. Rubber strips we had previously used became very hard in the winter and were pretty useless in my opinion.
We purchased metal for our garage side door, but for our front and back doors we bought wood and stained it to match our wood doors. They came out very nicely, and the wood strips can be cut to length by using a hand saw, for a custom fit.
Blown In Insulation
Depending on the size of your home, it can cost several thousand dollars to pay someone to blow fiberglass insulation into your attic. If you have a truck to haul your large bags of insulation, and can find a rental machine to blow the insulation, you can do this job yourself for a fraction of the price.
At the time we did our insulation, Home Depot had a special that offered the machine for free with a minimum purchase of insulation. Two of our biggest areas for heat loss were our attic and our crawl space. This was the messiest of the jobs, but has made the biggest difference in energy savings.
As you can see, we took steps to make our home more energy efficient, and improved our homes energy rating by one and a half stars. Not only does it make our home more comfortable in the winter, but it has lowered our heating and electricity bills. Our furnace runs less, and we even turned down our thermostat by two degrees during the day and ten degrees during the night. The money saved from our home improvement efforts have really paid off and made our winters more comfortable.