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The cost of heating and cooling has continued year on year and shows 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 reduce our energy bills and save some money.
One of the most inexpensive and fastest ways to reduce your energy use is by carrying out an efficiency audit on your property. This involves carrying out a variety of checks in your property and making small changes that will ultimately increase the efficiency of your current heating (including pellet stoves, furnaces and gas fireplaces), decreasing demand on your heating system and helping to keep your property warmer for longer. Some frequent causes of efficiency issues include draughts and insulation problems that can result in heat loss.
The best place to begin your home efficiency audit is to start draught-proofing your home, draughts are simply cold currents of air that result in heat loss.
Draught-proofing is also easy to carry out as a DIY project and the materials you will need are very inexpensive. Some of the most common draught-proofing materials you will likely need for this task include the following items:
- Draught-excluders designed for doors
- Foam strips for windows
- Silicone for small gaps
- Expanding foam for larger gaps
You can usually feel the draught with your hands but a good tip is to use an incense stick or smoke pencil which you can buy from hardware stores which can be a more accurate way of finding the draft via its interaction with the smoke.
There are many places draughts can make a way into your home with gaps in doors and windows being two key players. Dealing with door draughts won’t cost much at all, perhaps a few dollars and includes things like fitting a draught excluder to deal with the gap commonly found at the bottom of doors that may be allowing a draught into your living space. Similar kits can be found specifically for keyholes, letterboxes and for areas around the door too.
To deal with window draughts you can source draught-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?
Worryingly, as much as a quarter of 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 escaping, helping you to control the temperature of your home better and reduce your heating bills at the same time.
Luckily for those of you who do a good job with DIY or know someone who does, installing attic or roof insulation is not too difficult at all, and it’s relatively cost-effective. You can pick up mineral roll insulation at most hardware stores, you then need to 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, some wood battens can be laid as a new floor above the insulation.
Remember that around a quarter of heat is lost from homes through the roof and so by applying some insulation, it is a hugely 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, hence why ensuring they are is so valuable to 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 faster the heat in your home will transfer to the outside. 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.
Old properties were built with a solid wall instead of the more modern design of having 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, are more expensive than insulating a cavity wall but can be useful in their own ways and are guaranteed to save you enough money on heating in the long term to make a profit on the initial investment. If you have a non-standard wall type 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 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.
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.