It happens every year: the weather warms up, the air conditioner runs more often, and your energy bills go up. With the warm and sunny weather quickly approaching, now is a great time to think about some simple DIY home improvement projects that will save you money on your summer energy bills. Here are five easy ways to put some money back in your pocket this summer:
1. Weatherstripping & Caulking
It’s not uncommon for doors and windows to let warm air in from outside when improperly sealed. Other common areas of your home that may be letting air in or out are your attic or basement. Leaks like these can cost you hundreds of dollars a year! Thankfully, there are a few DIY options to patch these leaks up yourself:
- Weatherstripping: this is usually done on movable joints, like a window track or door sweep when there is extra space between the door and the floor. There are tons of weatherstripping options to choose from, so make sure the one you choose will withstand the type of weather, temperature changes, friction and wear and tear for the location. Weatherstripping should be inspected after a few years to see if replacement is needed.
- Caulking: For areas that do not move, caulking may be a more suitable option. Caulking is generally used on gaps or cracks smaller than ¼ inch and is a simple process that you can do yourself. If it’s your first time, you can always watch a video to get some tips. You’ll get the hang of it pretty quickly.
Sealing all gaps will keep both the warm air from getting inside and keep your cool air from escaping, making your home more energy efficient and lowering your energy bill.
2. Look for other air leaks.
If your home is still feeling drafty after making sure that the doors and windows are sealed, it’s possible you’re still leaking air somewhere else. Here are a few other places to look:
- Outlets: Check electrical outlets to see if air is coming through. You can take the plate off with a screwdriver and hold a candle in front of the outlet to see if air is flowing. Sometimes the insulation will pull away from these openings, causing the leak. It’s a quick and simple fix to stuff a little insulation around the outlets.
- Pipes entering your home: Any electric conduits or pipes are sealed where they enter your home, but over time, those seals can erode, creating an easy place for air to enter and exit. You can use caulk or other types of sealers to stop the warm air from getting in.
- Chimney damper: If you have a fireplace, check to make sure that your damper completely seals when it is closed. If not, consider buying a chimney balloon to stop airflow. Inflatable chimney balloons fit beneath your fireplace flue when not in use. They are made from durable plastic, and can be removed easily and reused hundreds of times. Another option is to use a fitted cover over the fireplace opening. Many of these are designed to be just as decorative as they are functional, plus they are easy to install and uninstall.
3. Turn down your water heater
Turn the temperature of your water heater down as it warms up outside. Water heating can account for upwards of 18% of the energy consumed in your home, turning the temperature down will not only conserve energy, but save you money on your energy bills!
4. Cover your windows
We’ve already talked about a few ways to minimize air flow through your windows, but sometimes structural issues that cannot be fixed with weatherstripping or caulking can cause your windows to let in warm air. Here are a couple of things that can help:
- Heavy curtains or blinds: They won’t stop the air from getting in, but they will trap it and keep it near the windows, so not as much travels into the room.
- Plastic Insulation: Heat-shrink plastic film, which is available at most home improvement stores, is an easy alternative to insulate drafty windows.
5. Install a programmable thermostat
If you don’t already have one, a programmable thermostat can save you hundreds of dollars in heating and cooling costs. Not to mention, installing one is relatively simple.