HVAC: Now is a great time to get some projects done around your home, and if your utility bills have been creeping higher and higher, you may want to concentrate on your HVAC system and making your home, overall, more energy efficient. This will reduce your carbon footprint and lowers utility costs.
Here are a few projects weekend chores that can make a significant impact on your utility bills and HVAC system:
Reduce Air Leaks In Your HVAC System
Anytime indoor air can escape your home and outdoor air can find its way inside, your HVAC system will have to work harder to maintain your preferred temperature. Check the weatherstripping on each of your windows and door to make sure it’s in good condition. Replace any worn weatherstripping with new materials and use caulk to seal any other gaps around windows and doors, such as where the trim meets the walls and around the edges of the glass panes.
Check the exterior of your home for cracks in the foundation, loose or missing siding and holes drilled through the walls for pipes, electrical cables, phone cables, exhaust vents and other penetrations. Use caulk to seal cracks and gaps that are less than 1/4-inch wide and use a combination of caulk and sprayed foam insulation to seal large gaps. Also check in the attic for penetrations used for wiring, plumbing vents, appliance vents and chimneys. Use caulk or foam to seal holes for pipes or wires, and use flashing to create an airspace around appliance vents and seal it with high-temperature caulk.
Add More Insulation
Insulation slows the heat transfer between the outdoor air and the indoor air. If your home doesn’t have enough insulation, your HVAC system will waste energy working harder to maintain your indoor temperature.
The most important place to have the proper amount of insulation is in the attic floor. In the winter, heat will rise and be tempered by the cooler air in the attic, and in the summer, your cool air will be warmed by the hot air on the underside of the roof.
If your attic is unfinished, you can check the insulation level yourself. If there are only a few inches, you can add more using fiberglass batts or loose fill until you have the equivalent of an R-30 to R-60 level of insulation, which is the recommended amount for the area. If you can’t check the insulation yourself, have a professional inspect it, as well as the rest of the insulation in your home. If your walls have less than R-13, consider having a professional install blown-in cellulose or foam insulation, which doesn’t require any major remodeling to install.
Install a Programmable Thermostat
Keeping your home at a constant temperature, even while you’re sleeping or at work, can waste a significant amount of energy. By lowering the temperature 10 to 15 degrees for at least 8 hours a day in the winter, or raising it by a similar amount in the summer, you can save up to 20 percent off heating and cooling costs.
By installing a programmable thermostat, you can automate the changes to the temperature, making the process more convenient. Today’s models are inexpensive and easy to install. There are many versions on the market — from simple ones that offer a separate weekday and weekend program to models that have individual programs for each day. Even Internet-connected versions are available, offering easier programming and advanced features, such as remote operation.
Replace the Refrigerator
Your home’s refrigerator is one of the largest consumers of energy in your home because it’s constantly running, day or night, regardless of the temperature. Even if it’s just a few years old, it’s likely that the newest models available are significantly more energy efficient.
Consider replacing your old refrigerator with one that’s Energy Star-rated to save the most on electricity costs. Keep it running efficiently by vacuuming the coils at least twice a year.
If you need to replace other appliances or electronics, such as HVAC equipment, water heaters, televisions or computers, carefully compare different models to find the most energy efficient one or look for ones that are also Energy Star-rated HVAC.
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