“Hey, shut that door! Are we trying to air condition the whole neighborhood?
We’ve definitely all heard that one before. In fact, it may even be the original “Dad Joke.” But all kidding aside, every year, American homes waste about 61% of the energy they consume. Much of this energy consumption goes to powering standby appliances (i.e. “vampire power”), but a good amount is lost due to breaches in the building envelope. A 2009 study from McKinsey & Company characterized this squandering of energy as Americans essentially paying for “heat that warms the air on the other side of the cracks in their walls.” So, it turns out Dad’s wry admonition wasn’t too far off the mark after all.
However, the good news is there are actions you can take right now to dramatically reduce your energy consumption, minimize your home’s carbon footprint, and ultimately make a positive impact on the environment. Below are five easy ways to make your home more energy efficient:
Switch to More Energy-Efficient Lighting
Far and away, the simplest step you can take to make your home more energy efficient is to stop using incandescent lightbulbs and switch to compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). According to energystar.gov, this one small change can help you slash the electricity needed to light your home by up to 70%. Not to mention, most incandescent bulbs only last about 750 hours, whereas the average CFL lasts about 8,000 hours.
However, if you really want to maximize your energy savings, LED (light-emitting diode) bulbs are the way to go. ENERGY STAR®-qualified LED bulbs use about 80% less energy than incandescent lightbulbs but provide much more illumination. A mere 8-watt LED bulb can produce as much light as a 60-watt incandescent bulb! LEDs also lead the pack in terms of longevity, with the average LED bulb lasting between 20,000 to 50,000 hours.
Weatherize Your Home – DIY Style
Air leaks around windows and doors can account for up to 30% of an older home’s wasted energy. But you don’t have to be a home improvement professional to address these problem areas. Many home weatherizing measures are easy to complete by yourself using inexpensive products from your local hardware store. This includes installing door sweeps, applying adhesive weather-stripping around the insides of your door and window frames, and sealing gaps and cracks around your windows and doors with caulk or a foam sealant. Not only can these few small changes make your home more energy efficient, but they can also make it more comfortable as well.
Examine Your Insulation Situation
Speaking of keeping your home comfortable, if you’ve ever lived in a building that was poorly insulated, you know just how important it is to have sufficient insulation installed throughout your home. From ice-cold floorboards to astronomically high energy bills, the effects of insufficient or worn-out insulation can be brutal. A professional insulation contractor can help you determine if your home needs more insulation, and if so, how much. A standard rule of thumb in the industry is known as the “20-40-60 Rule,” which suggests that the walls of your foundation should have an R-value of 20, the walls of your house should have an R-value of 40, and your attic and roof should have an R-value of 60.
Install a Storm Door
Investing in a new storm door is a great way to reduce heat transfer through your home’s entryways. In fact, some storm doors can limit heat loss by up to 50%. Storm doors achieve these energy savings by adding an extra barrier against hot or cold outside temperatures and also by creating a pocket of air between your main entry door and the storm door which provides a layer of insulation.
Replace Your Underperforming Windows
While it requires more of an investment than swapping out your lightbulbs or applying a few beads of calk, replacing drafty windows can save you hundreds of dollars per year on your energy bills. And, according to energystar.gov, ENERGY STAR®-certified replacement windows can also reduce your home’s carbon footprint by up to 6,000 pounds.
Replacement windows with low-E glass can help your home stay cooler in the summer by filtering the sun’s ultraviolet rays and the heat they bring with them. This lessens the burden on your HVAC system which can significantly reduce your heating and cooling costs. In some cases, you can even take advantage of federal tax credits by purchasing ENERGY STAR®-certified replacement windows, which translates to even more savings as well as a more comfortable, energy-efficient home.
Contact West Shore Home Today
To learn more about how you can improve your home’s energy efficiency, reduce your carbon footprint, and get on Mother Nature’s good side, contact the home improvement professionals at West Shore Home to schedule a free consultation.