Do an energy audit of your home:
- Check levels of insulation in your exterior and basement walls, ceilings, attic, floors, and crawl spaces. The easiest and most cost-effective way to insulate your home is to add insulation to the attic. To find out if you have enough insulation, measure the thickness of the insulation. If there is less than R-22 (7 inches of fiberglass or rock wool or 6 inches of cellulose), you could use more more insulation. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, an R-value of R-49 is recommended for our area for attic insulation.
- Check for holes or cracks around your walls, ceilings, windows, doors, light and plumbing fixtures, switches, and electrical outlets that can leak air into or out of your home.
- Check for open fireplace dampers.
- Make sure your appliances and heating / cooling systems are properly maintained.
Form a conservation plan:
These questions will help you set your priorities as to what needs to be done first, which projects can be done cheaply by yourself and which are most costly and will require a contractor:
- How much do you spend on energy? How long will it take for an investment in energy efficiency to pay for itself in energy savings?
- Can you do the job yourself or will you have to hire a contractor?
- What is your budget? How much do you have to spend on maintenance and repairs?
Weatherize Your Home
Small air leaks located all around your house can have a negative effect on your energy bill when their effects are combined. A lot of small leaks can add up to the same effect as having a large hole in your house’s wall.
- Test your home for air-tightness. On a windy day, hold a lit stick of incense next to your windows, doors, electrical boxes, plumbing fixtures, electrical outlets, ceiling fixtures, attic hatches and other locations where there is a possible air path to the outside. If the smoke streams horizontally, you have located an air leak that may need caulking, sealing, or weatherstripping.
- Caulk and weatherstrip doors and windows that leak air. Caulk and seal air leaks where plumbing, ducting, or electrical wiring penetrates through exterior walls, floors, ceilings, and soffits over cabinets.
- Install rubber gaskets behind outlet and switch plates on exterior walls.
- Install storm windows over single-pane windows or replace windows with double pane windows. A less costly and temporary solution for this problem is to use heavy-duty, clear plastic sheeting on the inside of windows. Kits may be purchased at home improvement stores or plastic sheeting may be cut to fit windows. Plastic must be sealed tightly to the frame or window to reduce infiltration.
- Close the fireplace damper.