Rising energy costs combined with concerns about climate change are spurring more homeowners to examine how they can save energy at home. Are you concerned about energy costs? Is the temperature of your home not as comfortable as you’d like?
The following home energy checklist suggests steps to take to increase your home’s energy efficiency, reducing energy transfer and improving its overall livability.
Tasks for Winter
Start your year off right by tackling energy-related tasks in and around your home this winter. Don’t wait for the weather to warm up; you can start saving energy now.
Get an Energy Audit
Get started right away by scheduling a home energy audit. An energy audit will help you determine the most effective changes you can make to reduce your energy consumption. While some changes will benefit most homes, knowing exactly which changes will benefit your home the most will make the rest of your improvements more effective.
Do you have enough insulation for your climate? No matter what part of the country you live in, your home needs adequate insulation in order to be at its most efficient. This map from Energy Star will help you determine the right level of insulation for your climate zone. If your house isn’t sufficiently insulated, adding insulation will make a big difference immediately to your comfort and your energy bills. Ideally, you’ll want to layer your insulation, using a mixture of batts in the attic and either fill or spray foam (which can also act as an air barrier) in the walls so your home is fully insulated.
Consider Alternative Heating Sources
If your heating bills are your home’s biggest energy expense, consider investing in an alternative heating source. Adding a pellet stove to your home can help you offset expensive heating bills; they are cleaner burning than wood stoves but still add some ambiance and comfort. Or, if it’s time to upgrade your furnace, consider switching to a geothermal heat pump. These appliances use heat from the ground to warm your home and can sink heat from your home into the ground to cool it. An ENERGY STAR-rated geothermal heat pump is a much more efficient way to heat and cool your home and can save you a lot on your energy bills.
Seal Your Ducts
If your heating system uses ducts to transport heat through your home, make sure they’re well-sealed this winter. Leaky ducts can lose as much as 20% to 30% of the energy you’re using to heat your home. With properly sealed ducts, you’ll use less energy to keep your house at the same temperature. This video from This Old House shows how big a difference leaky seals can make to your energy bill and comfort.
Tasks for Spring
As the weather warms up, take these steps to maximize your energy potential before things get hot.
Seal or Replace Your Windows
Your windows can also be a source of energy loss. Depending on how old they are, replacing them may help reduce your energy consumption. However, sometimes all you need is to seal the windows you already have. Take a look at the exterior of your windows; if you notice missing caulk, a quick bead of silicone sealant can help stop some energy leaks.
Have Your Ducts Cleaned
The perfect time to clean out your HVAC system is when you’re not using it. A buildup of debris could be making your HVAC work harder than it needs to in order to heat and cool your home. By cleaning your ducts, you can help reduce that load.
Vent Your Attic
Your attic is important to your home’s total energy plan. In the winter, insulation blocks heat and moist air from the rooms below while attic ventilation helps keep the attic air cold, protecting against ice dams and roof damage. In the summer months, proper attic ventilation moves super-heated air out of the attic so no hot, moist air builds up.
Tasks for Summer
As the weather warms up and you switch to air conditioning, combat rising energy costs with these steps.
Have Your AC Serviced
Your air conditioner needs yearly service to work at its best, but many people mistakenly skip this step to save money. Dirty air conditioners tend to work harder than they need to, which leads to higher energy bills and may lead to freezing coils, leaks, and clogs. Have your AC serviced at the start of the season to keep cool with lower bills throughout the hot months.
Install a Tankless Water Heater
Traditional water heaters use energy constantly to maintain a constant water temperature — even when you don’t need it. Tankless water heaters heat water only when you need it; by switching to a tankless heater, you’ll reduce your energy consumption over the course of the year.
Tasks for Fall
Before you go back into winter, make sure your home is ready to combat the cold without sending your energy bills soaring.
Change Your HVAC Filter
Depending on the type of filters you use and the type of system you have, you should replace your filter (or clean it, if you have a reusable filter) anywhere from once a month to once every six months. At a minimum, change your filter between summer and winter, the two busiest seasons for your system. A clogged filter makes your system work harder to pull air through it, which in turn uses more energy.
Upgrade Your Thermostat
Your thermostat plays a big role in your energy consumption. A programmable model that lets you dictate when the heat or AC is on can help you save energy. If your schedule is fairly unpredictable, consider switching to a smart model that uses geotracking to tell when you’re home or away. The system will shut itself off once you’ve left the area so you don’t need to think about it.
Take Control of Your Energy Usage
Completing just a few tasks each season will help make your home more energy-efficient all year long. You’ll benefit from a more comfortable home and lower energy costs.
About the Author
Cristina Miguelez is remodeling specialist at Fixr.com, a website that connects consumers with service professionals in their area and estimates the cost for remodeling projects. She writes about home improvement tips and tricks to help homeowners make better home remodeling decisions.
Feature image by by Sindre Strøm from Pexels. Originally published on February 3, 2020, this article was updated in October 2021.