During the winter, many homeowners are concerned with keeping their homes warm and toasty without breaking the bank; insulation and energy efficiency are big concerns, both for “going green” and for keeping heating bills under control. Now, springtime is here, but for many homeowners the challenge remains the same: How do you keep your home comfortable without overspending on your utilities? How can you ensure a nice, cool spring and summer through maximizing insulation and energy efficiency? The temptation is to think of energy efficiency as one big project, a silver bullet that will make your bills go down and keep your home comfortable. In truth, it’s more like a series of very small tasks—all of which add up to a more energy efficient home. Some of those little tasks, perfect for springtime, include:
- Start with your fans. Give them a good dusting off, and make sure they all work properly. This includes ceiling fans but also bathroom ventilation fans, assuming you can easily access them. Also make sure your ceiling fans are set on the right direction; you should be drawing air upward, cooling the home and maintaining a good, regular airflow. Finally, remember that fans cool people, not rooms; running a fan in an empty room is just a waste of money, so turn the fan off as you exit a room.
- Next, turn to your windows. This is where you’re going to lose a lot of your cool air and get a lot of heat coming in, all summer long. If your windows are particularly old, you might benefit from having new, energy efficient ones installed. If nothing else, some thick, thermal-backed drapes can help you protect your home from the heating effects of the sun.
- Get your air conditioning unit inspected and cleaned. Now is the time to call the HVAC professional. It will cost you $100 or so, but think of it as preventative maintenance, and as the best way to ensure your unit remains functional all summer long.
- Go around your home and check for air leaks. Look around windows and doors in particular; if you have an unfinished basement, you may also want to look around the foundation of your home, where there could be some lapses in insulation. If you see little cracks or openings, fill them with caulk to better insulate your home.
- Head up to the attic and check the insulation. Attic insulation is a wonderful thing, as it keeps the home warmer during winter and cooler during summer. If you see bare patches or thin insulation, now is a good time to have some more added.
- Be smart about kitchen appliance use. Every little bit helps! Don’t leave the refrigerator door open longer than you need to. Use microwaves and pressure cookers instead of the stove, whenever possible. Only run the dishwasher when you have a full load in it.
- Switch to CFL light bulbs throughout your home. And, turn off the lights as you exit each room.
- Don’t forget about your garage! Add a weather strip under your garage door to keep that room a bit cooler and to protect against the loss of your air conditioning.
- Consider investing in a home energy audit. If you are really serious about going energy efficient, having your home inspected by an energy pro can yield plenty of avenues for savings.
An energy efficient home is by no means an unattainable goal. All it takes is a little bit of diligence, a little bit of attention to the small things that make a home run smoothly.