Heating and cooling account for nearly half of all U.S. energy use. One of the best ways to save energy and reduce utility bills is to do a few simple weatherization projects. Although some, such as insulating the attic or installing a new HVAC system are quite involved, others are relatively simple weekend projects that require just a few basic supplies and skills.
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Air Seal Gaps and Cracks
The best way to test for air leaks in the home exterior is to perform a blower door test, which involves installing a temporary door with a fan built in to check for air leaks. Another way to find air leaks on a cold day is by placing your hand around windows, doors, vents, and fans. You can also use a candle to find smaller leaks, like around outlets, light fixtures, phone jacks, and baseboards. If the flame dances around, it indicates a nearby air leak.
Sealing your home helps reduce drafts, promote even temperatures, and even increases home durability. Caulk is commonly applied to stationary places, such as around doors, windows. Weatherstripping is often used where building elements move, such as doors and the moving parts on windows. Caulk around plumbing, ducting, or where the wiring comes through walls, ceilings, soffits, and floors. Apply caulk and weatherstripping to leaky doors and windows.
Use Window Treatments
In the winter, insulating blinds and curtains help keep the heat in. This is especially helpful with older, single-pane windows. Keep south-facing window treatments open during the day to take advantage of the heating power of the sun. Close the curtains or blinds at night to keep the heat in.
In the summer, window treatments can help keep out the hot sun for a cooler home. Keep west- and east-facing window treatments closed during the day to block out the sun.
Insulated cellular shades, window quilts, Roman shades, blinds, curtains, or drapes can all help reduce home heating and cooling loads. This is especially useful in homes with less efficient windows or in extreme climates.
Place Bubble Wrap Over Windows
This is a cost-effective way to prevent air leaks through inefficient windows. Bubble wrap still allows light to pass through the window but helps stop the transfer of heat. This is an easy weatherization trick for basement or attic windows in rooms that are rarely used.
Turn Your Water Heater Down to 120°
Some homeowners have their water heaters turned up to 140°, which wastes energy. Water heaters have a tank with heated water in it, so the hotter the water, the more energy required to keep that hot water ready for use. Most households don’t need the water to be warmer than 120°, except possibly for the dishwasher. Consult the water heater’s owner’s manual to determine how to turn your water heater down.
Install a Programmable Thermostat
We often heat or cool our homes more than is necessary. Programmable thermostats help keep the home at the right temperature, saving energy. They basically make it easier to turn the heat back at night and when we are out for long periods during the day, saving energy.
This article was originally published on April 30, 2019.