It seems right about the time you get a break from the high cost of cooling your home, it’s time to start thinking about heating your home as Fall sets in. Now is the time to think about taking some steps to make your home more energy efficient, which can have benefits year round. Many suggested strategies don’t even cost anything, or are very inexpensive to implement.
One great investment is an energy audit of your home by a professional. While not a free or low-cost service, per se, it can provide valuable information on where your home is leaking energy, and how to fix it. Energy Action Fairfax even has tips for DIY energy audits, if you are so inclined. If you qualify for income or age-related assistance, Dominion Energy offers resources for free energy audits that includes installation of any recommended repairs.
Additional tips include:
Let the Sun Shine In!
Ever notice the excess warmth that is amplified when the sun shines through a window? Leverage this heat during the day to warm your home! South-facing windows work best, but any window that gets several hours of sunlight per day can help. So open those drapes and let the light in!
If you feel or see air movement around your windows, then you know you will have a problem come winter. If new windows aren’t in the budget, then cover your windows with a heavy-duty plastic or use a special kit for covering drafty windows. The clear plastic will let in the sun and the heat, while blocking the colder air. Make sure the entire window is covered, and that the plastic is sealed tightly to prevent leakage.
You can also apply a fresh bead of caulking around the window frames. If you still feel a draft, invest in insulating drapes that will block the cooler air.
Leverage Your Thermostat
If you don’t already have one, investing in a programmable thermostat will help immensely. But even if you don’t have one, you can make a habit to adjust the temperature within your home based on your needs:
- Keep your thermostat set as low as is comfortable for you, when you are home and awake. Shoot for the 65-68 degree range.
- During the day, when no one is home, or at night, when everyone is asleep, dial back the temperature around 10 degrees. Save even more by setting back 15 degrees. You can return the thermostat to a more comfortable setting when you get up in the morning or return home.
Find and Seal Leaks
A major potential source of energy leakage is around holes in the floor, walls, or cabinets that allow wires or pipes through from your crawlspace or behind walls. Seal around these with foam insulation or similar targeted product. Check around your chimney for gaps and around recessessed lights and fixtures, and seal off any gaps you may find.
Don’t forget to also seal leaks around doors and windows with fresh caulk or weatherstripping.
Get a Heating System Check-up
Ben Franklin said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This doesn’t only apply to preventative health care. It also applies to preventative maintenance on your heating and cooling system! Schedule a semi-annual service appointment before you start up the furnace this fall.
If you have a furnaces and heat pumps, be sure to replace your filter once a month or as recommended by the manufacturer. Your system will run more efficiently, and have an extended life-span, if you don’t run it with clogged and dirty filters.
Don’t Forget about your Fireplace!
Only open the damper when a fire is burning. If you keep the damper open, you are letting your warm air (and your energy dollars!) escape straight up through your chimney.
If you don’t ever use the fireplace, consider sealing off the flue. If you do use the fireplace, consider installing a heat-air exchanger, which will help keep the heat in the room. Then you can lower the thermostat even more, and maintain comfortable temperatures in the room.
Re-seal around the flue damper if necessary. It should be as snug as possible. Consider adding fresh caulk around the fireplace hearth, too.
Lower Your Water Heating Costs
Everyone loves a nice, steamy hot shower now and again. But water heaters are also a major energy suck, unless you have invested in a tankless heater. Keeping the temperature set a little lower will save you on energy costs year round. Around 120 degrees is recommended for optimal savings.
Consider installing a water heater “blanket”, which helps insulate the water heater and keep the warmth from leaching out. This is especially helpful if your water heater is located in an unheated garage or basement. I may not be necessary if it’s in a utility closet inside the home.
Be Smart with Holiday Lighting
Cooler weather also means that the holidays are upon us. Whether you opt for a classy and minimalist light display, or if you are vying for the Whoville Holiday Lights Contest (who wants to be a Grinch, anyway?), there are ways to combat soaring energy costs. Specifically, opt for LED light strings, rather than the traditional bulbs. These are infinitely more efficient. Also, look for the ENERGY STAR® certification when purchasing new decorative light strings.
If you don’t like the thought of throwing away all your old light strings, check with your local home improvement stores. Some will run holiday light collection drives as the season kicks in. Getting rid of old light strings may also help prevent potential house fires, as well.
No matter the season, we can help with every step of buying or selling your home. Our main goal is to help you achieve your dream, as well as facilitate a smooth sale and closing. As always, if you or someone you know need help selling or finding a dream home in 2018, please do not hesitate to call us. Contact Jason at 703-298-7037 or Jason@JasonAndBonnie.com.