With utility costs on the rise, many families are looking for simple ways to cut heating and cooling costs in their homes. Creating an energy-efficient home does not have to be expensive. Many modifications are free or cheap. In the long run, you’ll save plenty of money on heating and cooling costs.
Energy efficient light bulbs, preferably those with the Energy Star seal, can help you save money on your electricity bill by providing you with the same amount of light and using less energy. Department stores such as Wal-Mart and Target sell these bulbs for relatively low prices. Online retailers such as Amazon may also be another option. [Editor's note: If you are really lucky, you might find some at your local thrift store. I picked up boxes of spiral flourescent bulbs at Salvation Army one week for 50 cents each. Another week, they were on the CVS clearance rack for 99 cents each. Keep an eye out for deals to get extra savings!]
During the winter, the primary goal for keeping the home energy efficient is to try to make sure that the cold air from outside stays out of the house. During the warmer months, keeping the cool air inside is generally a priority. Air conditioning units use a great deal of electricity. Therefore, the less you have to run your AC unit, the better. The best places to start protecting are the windows and doors, as those are the primary places that air can travel to and from a home.
Modifying your home’s windows to be more energy efficient is simple. First, take a close look at the window areas to see if there are any cracks that air could potentially leak through. If there are, use silicone caulk to fill the holes in order to prevent further leaks. Consider plastic shrink-wrap sheets designed to insulate windows for a cheap fix.
Do a second inspection to make sure there aren’t any other significant problems such as mold, broken glass, severe rust, or other potential problems. Broken glass can easily be replaced. Rusty components can be cleaned. However, if the rust is too severe, rusty components may need to be replaced. Most molds should be cleaned with bleach. Make sure that the windows are well-insulated and that the caulk and weather stripping is doing its job.
You can test the efficacy of your windows by placing a medium-sized fan on top a ladder at the high setting outside of the windows. With the fan outside blowing on high and the window closed, move your hand around in front of the window from the inside of your house. If you feel any air, check to see where it is coming from and seal the cracks with caulk. Repeat until you cannot feel any air coming through.
Certain types of curtains can also help to keep the house at a comfortable temperature. Thermal curtains help keep the warm air out during the summer and the cold air out during the winter. Their insulation allows them to act as barriers between the outside of your home and the inside. If you find yourself short on time and wanting a quick, easy, and cheap way to make your windows energy efficient then installing thermal curtains may be the right option for you.
The final and most important places are the doors leading to the outside of your home. If you have older doors that leak, you may need to apply weather stripping to the perimeter of the doors. Since this process can be somewhat complicated, try consulting a professional at a home improvement store such as Home Depot or Lowes. Make sure that you’ve measured the perimeter of your door as that information will be essential when choosing what type of weather stripping to install.
It’s important to think of home energy efficiency as a long-term investment. While initial costs may be slightly higher, the long-term benefits such as a reduced power bill are significant. These improvements are ideal for people who will be saying in their homes for extended periods of time.