The cost of heating and cooling your home has increased every year and this trend is showing no sign of slowing down anytime soon.
Astonishingly in the USA, home heating and cooling is responsible for 48% of energy use on average, so it’s no surprise that many of us are looking for practical ways to save money on energy bills.
One of the most inexpensive and quickest ways to reduce your energy use is by carrying out an energy audit on your property. This involves reviewing any airflow issues your home may have, and making small changes that will ultimately increase the efficiency of your current heating, whether you use pellet stoves, furnaces or gas fireplaces.
DIY Energy Audit Checklist
Places to check for air leakages in your home
- Around Windows and Doors to see if air is moving
- At baseboards and corners in rooms
- Recessed Lighting and Electrical Outlets to see if air is escaping
- Fireplaces and Chimneys to see if you feel a draft
By performing this very simple DIY audit you could decrease the demand on your heating system and help to keep your property warmer for longer. As mentioned in the simple DIY energy audit checklist many frequent causes of efficiency issues include draft issues. Your homes insulation or lack of it in certain areas could also add to the problems you’re experiencing with heat or cold-air loss.
The Energy Audit Checklist above is the best place to begin identifying if your home is energy.
Similar to auditing your homes energy efficiency, draft-proofing is also easy to carry out as a DIY project. The materials you will need are very inexpensive and can be purchased at a local hardware store. Some of the most common draft-proofing materials you will likely need for this task include the following items:
- Draft-excluders (stopper) designed for doors
- Foam strips for windows
- Silicone sealant for small gaps
- Expanding foam for larger gaps
There are many places drafts can make a way into your home with gaps in doors and windows being two key players. Dealing with door drafts won’t cost much at all, perhaps a few dollars and includes things like fitting a draft-excluder to deal with the gap commonly found at the bottom of doors that may be allowing a draft into your living space. Similar kits can be found specifically for keyholes, letterboxes and for areas around the door too.
To deal with window drafts you can source draft-proofing strips that can be placed between the space where your window frame and window meet. Don’t just check by windows and doors though, less obvious locations such as walls where wiring or plumbing is coming through, as well as fireplaces and loft hatches!
Once you have determined where the draft is coming from, you would need to block it off using a sealant putty, filler, and caulk or insulant foam; depending on the size of the area you wish to seal up.
Insulating properties is a very common, practical and cost-effective means of keeping those energy bills lower, it’s also lowering the energy consumption it takes to heat the home through reducing your need to use your heating system as much – a brilliant way to reduce emissions which are harmful to our atmosphere.
Is Insulating your Home Worth It?
As much as a quarter of our homes heat is lost via the roof, so it’s certainly worth mitigating all that heat loss. You have probably heard that heat rises, so inevitably all the heat produced by your system is going to escape through the roof, so by installing insulation materials, you can stop the heat from escaping, helping you to control the temperature of your home better and reduce your heating bills at the same time.
For those of you who love a good DIY job, installing attic or roof insulation is not too difficult, and it’s relatively cost-effective. You can pick up rolls of insulation at most hardware stores, and then all you’ll need to do is simply cut it to the correct size and lay it between the supports.
If you still plan to use the attic for storage, and you don’t want to compress the mineral wool as this will decrease its functionality, instead use some wood battens that can be laid as a new floor above the insulation.
Keep in mind that a quarter of heat is lost from homes through the roof and so by applying some insulation it is a sustainable way to cut back on those heating costs and is also effective for keeping the warmth you produce for longer which is a great advantage during the colder seasons.
Around 33% of all heat you produce is lost through uninsulated walls, which is why ensuring your walls are insulated is such a value to all homeowners. We have already established that heat rises, but it will also move from a warm area to a cold one. Therefore, during the colder months the heat in your home will transfer to the outside at a quicker rate. Insulating your walls will slow down this process drastically making it easier to keep your home warm and reduce your energy use.
There are two main types of wall – solid and cavity.
Older properties were built with a solid wall instead of the more modern design which has two layers of the wall with a gap between called a cavity wall. There are a couple of ways to insulate a solid wall; usually these methods require quite a lot of work, and are more expensive than insulating a cavity wall.
Insulating solid walls will benefit you in the long-run as it will save you on your energy bills, however, the process of insulating may be more than a DIY project for many homeowners. The process will most likely either have you fitting rigid boards to the wall or creating a separate wall which you can fill with insulation in between the two walls. If you have a solid wall it’s worth seeking professional advice on your insulation options.
If you have a cavity wall, then having insulation installed is relatively straightforward. Typically the installer will bore holes into your brickwork in order to access the cavity and using special equipment will blow insulating material into space. This material commonly includes the likes of mineral wool and polystyrene beads.
Thermostats and Controls
Thermostats are a great way to ensure your heating is switched on only when necessary. These sensors turn the heating on when the desired temperature you select is met and will only turn back on as the temperature begins to drop.
Ideally, you should set your thermostat to a temperature you feel comfortable in, typically between 64-70 degrees Fahrenheit. One common misconception is that you need to turn your thermostat up during the winter period -this is wrong.
Your thermostat will make sure your heating runs until your home is at the desired temperature, the only difference is that during the cold season, it may take a bit longer, but this is exactly why having a heat pump thermostat is extremely handy!
For optimum energy saving, you should opt for a programmable thermostat that will allow you to set different temperatures for different times of the day. For example, on cold winter morning, you probably want your home to start warming up before you get out of bed, and you’d probably like it to be a nice temperature when you arrive home from a busy day at work. That’s why thermostats are so good, they combine convenience and a practical way to save money on your heating bills.
Final Thoughts on Saving Money on Energy Bills
Performing a simple energy audit of your home is very easy and straight forward. If you use common sense you will be able to gauge what air flow issues you are having, and will give you a leg-up when it comes to correcting deficiencies you find in your home. Grab a pencil, a pad of paper, and a measuring tape to determine what items you’ll need to correct the low hanging fruit of issues. If you find the more difficult issues aren’t such a DIY project for you then give a professional a call. Although, you will be paying for these upfront fixes they will save you money in the long-run.
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