More and more do-it-yourselfers are discovering that energy efficient homes are not only less expensive to own and maintain – they're friendlier to the environment, too. Consequently, more people than ever are taking on home improvement projects designed to make their homes more "green."
Use Energy Efficient Light Bulbs
One easy step in creating a more energy efficient home is to use compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). They offer many benefits, including increased efficiency and a lifetime up to ten times longer than incandescent bulbs. CFLs provide warm, inviting light and can be used almost anywhere: recessed fixtures, table lamps, track lighting, ceiling fixtures and porch lights.
Install Ceiling Fans
Ceiling fans can help make your home more energy efficient because they use only 5% of the energy required to run air conditioning — the same as a 100-watt light bulb. By using them to keep cool, you’ll give the environment a break by reducing carbon dioxide emissions. They aren’t restricted to summer use either. Operating ceiling fans in reverse at slow speeds can reduce winter heating costs up to 15% by creating a gentle updraft and re-circulating hot air trapped by the ceiling.
For detailed ceiling fan installation instructions click here.
Insulate and Seal Ducts
Many areas of your home are susceptible to leaks that let in unwanted cold air in the winter and hot air in the summer. Among the weakest points are: attic hatches, fan vents, recessed lights and plumbing stack vents. Air can also creep into your home through windows, doors, outdoor faucets and electrical outlets. Now is a great time to install new – or bolster existing – insulation. Your local True Value hardware store carries a variety of insulation products designed to do just that.
A typical home loses 20% of the air that flows through the duct system due to leaks and poorly sealed connections. Sealing ducts can be one of the most beneficial ways to transform your living space into an energy efficient home. Exposed ducts in attics, basements, crawlspaces and garages can be repaired by sealing the leaks with duct sealant (also called duct mastic) or duct tape and foil tape. Use a cloth to wipe dust, oily film and grease from the duct’s surface. Use a natural bristle brush to coat the joint with a continuous strip of sealant and work in. Spread at least one inch on each side of the joint. For increased protection, wrap ducts with pipe insulation.
Maintain Furnace and Air Conditioner
Dirty furnace and air conditioner filters hamper airflow, costing you more to run the system. So clean or replace them once a month. Thoroughly vacuum filters and the surrounding area before and after removing them. Wash with soap and water for even cleaner filters. Make sure they're completely dry before you replace them.
To further increase the cost-effectiveness of your furnace and air conditioner, get into good thermostat habits. Lowering your thermostat by just one degree can reduce heating costs by about 4%. So turn down the thermostat when you're not at home. When you are home, adjust it only as much as necessary. Also, consider investing in a programmable thermostat, which will make it even easier to control energy expenditure. During the winter, turn down your furnace when you sleep. In the summer, only turn on the air conditioner for periods of high heat.
Congratulations, you're off to a great start. Making your home more energy efficient will provide lasting benefits for the environment and your bank account.
Project Shopping List
Here’s what you’ll need to complete this project successfully.