Winter has definitively arrived here in the southeast and I find myself thinking a lot about how to make my own home as energy efficient as possible. I thought I would share some easy tips to help optimize your homes efficiency. First, let’s discuss your heating system. Regardless of what type you have, you should have it professionally serviced at the beginning of the heating season. I cannot stress this enough, for usually less than $100, a qualified professional can check all parts of your system and give you the peace of mind to know that your system won’t break in the middle of a 10 degree night. What a rotten way to wake up! $100 is far less expensive than paying for a few nights in a hotel for your wife and kids, not to mention paying for emergency HVAC service. In order to keep your heating system running efficiently and safely, you must regularly change your air filters. It’s easy and inexpensive. Dirt and dust slow the airflow through the furnace and can cause it to overheat which could ultimately reduce the life of the system and/or result in costly repairs.
One of the most cost effective ways of conserving energy is weather stripping and caulking. Simply open your exterior doors and examine the weather stripping. If it has deteriorated or is missing, it can be an easy fix with a quick trip to the local big box home improvement store. Most residential door weather stripping today just sits in a kerf in the door frame (a slot). It pulls right out or goes in with ease no tools needed, well maybe a pair of scissors. Make sure there is not a gap under the door, if you can see light then its time replace your door sweep. Here again, it just slides out of a track and slides back in, just cut to length. The same applies for windows. There are many different types of weather stripping that can easily be applied to a drafty window. EDPM (a type of rubber) is my personal favorite; it’s tough and durable and cuts easily.
Caulking or spray foam, is another inexpensive way to help conserve energy and keep your house warm. Look under every sink in your home. Do you feel cold air? If you do, you can simply use spray foam around the pipes that penetrate through the floor or wall into the cabinet. While you’re at it, check your toilets’ water supply pipe. There usually is an escutcheon that can simply slide away from the toilet, then spray or caulk, and then slide it back tightly.
Have you ever noticed how cold it feels around switches and receptacles? There is a very easy and inexpensive way to solve that issue. Most home improvement stores sell outlet and switch plate foam gaskets that, once installed, can significantly reduce heat loss.
Recently I noticed a draft of cold air from under my bathroom and kitchen cabinets. Upon closer examination, I discovered a one-inch gap between the kick panel/plate and the actual cabinet. Cold air was pouring in so I bought some foam weather stripping, filled the gap, and now my feet are warm when I brush my teeth or wash dishes.
What I’ve outlined here today are all simple inexpensive things that any homeowner can do with a pair of scissors and a screwdriver. This can help save energy, reduce heating costs, and make your home feel much warmer.