From cleaning out filters to weatherproofing windows, you can incorporate many preventative measures into your home now and save money right away. You’ll help keep out the elements and maintain a comfortable temperature inside.
Courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens®
Bringing Down the Bill Amount
Why not take some steps today to save on your energy bill in the near future? Add insulation, weatherproofing, and other features so you won’t fear that bill each month.
These improvements not only save money, they conserve energy. For example, adding insulation to your water pipes can decrease the amount of energy lost during the delivery of hot water. The insulation is a win-win because it can also protect those pipes from freezing up in the event that the main heating system fails.
You can add simple steps such as weather stripping, programmable thermostats, and insulation, and you can go even further by investing in other methods such as attic fans, high efficiency windows, or reflective roofs.
You can comfortably fund these projects with assistance such as home equity loans. These loans are an attractive way to finance costly home projects, and the ability to write off the interest paid on home equity loans and lines of credit may make these loans palatable for you and your family. Other benefits include possible tax credits and low-interest loans for energy-saving home projects; check with your state government to see if you qualify.
Keep utility bills in check with
Invest in a programmable
thermostat to save money.
1. Get With the Programmables
One of a homeowner's most cost-effective moves is to install a programmable thermostat (they typically retail for about $85). Such thermostats can be set to increase and reduce temperature, depending on when you'll be home. If you can make simple electrical connections, you can do the installation yourself.
2. Weatherproof Windows
Insulate windows with spring metal, vinyl, felt, or self-adhesive foam. If your windows have deteriorated beyond saving, consider replacements chosen for R-value (resistance to heat loss or gain). Avoid metal-frame windows, which conduct cold into a home.
3. Weatherproof Doors
Doors lose twice as much energy as windows because of their larger surface areas, frequent openings, and harder-to-seal thresholds. But, like windows, they can be inexpensively weather-stripped and sealed, and a wide variety of rubber or metal sweeps and threshold locks can be added on to seal those bottom-area gaps.
4. Maintain and Strengthen Garage Doors
Garage doors present an even bigger problem than regular doors. Flimsy metal or warped wooden garage doors lose heat at an alarming rate and are one of a home's prime weak spots during violent wind storms. Heavier, better-insulated wood or fiberglass models require well-maintained quality components.
5. Insulate Exteriors
If your exterior walls lack interior insulation, check if you can drop in loose-fill insulation from the attic or have blown-in insulation professionally installed. Another big heat loser -- basement walls and crawl spaces -- can be framed out or insulated from inside or out to realize energy savings of up to 30 percent.
6. Insulate Interiors
Once you understand different ratings and types of insulation, you can insulate around pipes, heating and ventilation ducts and electrical outlets. Don't overlook the small openings where these fixtures pass through floors and walls -- the average home's gap space here loses as much energy as a two-foot square hole in an exterior wall.
For added efficiency and safety,
have the chimney swept yearly.
7. Burners, Flues, Heaters, and Dishwashers
Furnace filters should be changed every few months, while an annual chimney sweep will boost efficiency and reduce the risk of flue fires. Turning down the water-heater temperature settings to 140 degrees F for dishwasher-equipped homes (that's the minimum to kill germs) and 110 degrees in a home without a dishwasher can save energy and cut scalding risks. Some newer dishwashers boast internal heaters that let you keep your main heater at a lower setting.
8. Fire Up Your Fireplace
Wood-burning fireplaces are actually net heat losers, but installing or retrofitting wood-burning inserts and stoves or going with high-efficiency natural gas fireplaces can give you added efficiency and redundancy in case your main heating system needs repair.
9. Help Your House Keep Its Cool
White cement or metal roofs are top choices among roofing materials, as they keep a home cooler in summer. Other ways to beat summer heat include whole-house fans and attic fans as well as time-tested helpers like awnings and shade trees.
10. High-Tech Help for Your Car
Regular tune-ups, use of synthetic motor oils, and maintenance of proper tire pressure (cold weather contracts air) all save gasoline and make for a safer and more reliable vehicle. Gasoline-electric hybrid cars offer double the gas mileage of conventional vehicles, and tax incentives make buying them attractive. Carpooling and shopping or banking online are just a few other interactive ways to save gasoline.