Home Improvement Through Energy Efficiency
As energy costs spike and heating and cooling costs become more and more expensive, any chance to lower utility bills by making a home more energy-efficient is worth investigating. While many energy-saving solutions require a change of lifestyle, daily upkeep, or are very expensive to install, there are some simple things that can be done around the house that will quickly and conveniently make a difference in energy bills. In this article, we’ve outlined some home improvement ideas that work.
According to a report by Energy Star, home heating and cooling costs can be cut by 20% by properly sealing and insulating a home. A one-time investment can permanently benefit your home and save you money.
Heat rises in a home, with warm air leaving from the attic and upper levels and pulling in from the lower levels through the basement, crawlspace, and outside. Reduce the conditioned air exiting from the attic by insulating all areas and replace any insulation that is old or moist. Check that the entire floor is sealed underneath the insulation, and caulk or use spray foam insulation on any cracks or crevices.
Using 10-12 inches of insulation on an attic floor is standard, giving it an R-38 insulation rating. However, adding enough insulation to bring it to R-50 or more is recommended. Attic stairways are also a major escape route for warm air. The gaps created by an attic stairway can amount to as much as 40 square inches! Self-adhesive foam tape can be run along the upper edges of the attic staircase door to help reduce this leakage. Use eyehooks or a latch to jam the door against the foam when it’s not in use.
There are also many places around the home itself where air can leak in. Use caulk or spray foam to seal holes where wires enter into the basement and main house area. Seal around all these cables, pipes and other crevices. Make sure to brush away any dirt or cobwebs before applying caulk or spray foam.
Basements and Crawlspaces
Insulating the basement is a very effective way to add energy-efficiency to your home. Because water vapor comes into the basement through the concrete walls, this insulation should be water resistant and include a vapor barrier. Otherwise, it can become a habitat for mold and the moisture will ruin the insulation.
Encapsulating a crawlspace is also a fantastic way to make a home more energy-efficient. By sealing crawlspace vents, warm air is prevented from entering in the summer, where it would add humidity to the home. Sealing crawlspace vents also keeps cold air out that would otherwise seep into the house in the winter. A seal is created between the crawlspace walls and the air in a home that protects pipes, water heater, and heating ducts from cold.