Everyday Energy Efficiency for Your Home
By: Danny Lipford
Whether for environmental or monetary reasons, everyone wants to save energy in their home. We’re exploring some simple ways to make your home more energy efficient from heating and cooling to insulation and lighting.
Heating & Cooling
To reduce the energy used for heating and cooling your home:
- Close curtains in the summer to keep out heat, and open curtains during in day in the winter to let in sunlight.
- Run paddle ceiling fans counterclockwise in the summer for cooling when the room is occupied, and clockwise on low in the winter to circulate the warm air near the ceiling.
- Change the air filter on your heating and cooling system (HVAC) regularly to allow it to run more efficiently.
- Check the ductwork on your HVAC system for air leaks, and fix any that you find.
- Keep shrubs cut back around your outside HVAC unit, and use a garden hose to rinse it off from time to time.
- Install a programmable thermostat to turn the heat or air conditioning up or down when you’re not home.
- When buying a new air conditioning unit for your home, choose one with a high SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) rating, so it will be more energy efficient.
To reduce heating and cooling costs, make sure you have plenty of attic insulation. The effectiveness of insulation is expressed by the R-value:
- Attics in warm climates should have at least an R-38, or about 12” of fiberglass insulation.
- Houses in colder climates need a minimum of an R-49, or approximately 16” of insulation.
When adding additional insulation to your attic, use unfaced insulation, and wear:
- Goggles for eye protection
- An approved dust mask or respirator
- Long pants and long sleeved shirt
- Protective gloves
- Apply baby powder to exposed skin to reduce irritation
To insulate an attic stair opening, build a foam box in the attic around the opening, or install a premade cover like the Owens Corning Attic Stair Insulator, available at The Home Depot, or the Attic Tent.
Make sure you have proper attic ventilation to keep your attic cooler in the summer and reduce condensation in the winter.
When venting your attic, be sure you have:
- Soffit vents under the eaves to let outside air in.
- Gable or ridge vents near the peak of the roof to expel hot air.
- If you need additional attic ventilation, install an attic vent fan high up in the attic below the peak of the roof.
Hot Water Heaters
To reduce your hot water heating costs:
- Turn the hot water heater thermostat down to 120° F.
- Insulate hot water pipes with foam insulation.
- Drain hot water heaters once a year to remove sediment in the tank.
- Install a hot water heater timer which can be scheduled to turn the water heater on and off.
Hot water heaters typically last about 10-15 years. When replacing your hot water heater, consider an energy efficient type, such as an:
Energy Efficient Lighting
To save energy on lighting your home:
- Turn off lights when not in use.
- Use natural light from windows and skylights.
- Position mirrors on walls opposite windows to reflect natural light.
- Replace incandescent light bulbs with CFL or LED bulbs.
Energy Efficient Windows
To make older single-pane windows more energy efficient, consider installing storm windows over the outside of your existing windows. If your budget allows, replace windows with energy efficient, insulated glass windows, such as those from JELD-WEN Windows & Doors, to make a big difference on your energy bills.
You can also reduce your energy bill by caulking cracks and gaps around the outside of your house. When caulking cracks on the outside of your home:
- Use an exterior caulk that’s mildew resistant.
- Make sure the caulk is paintable, if you plan to paint over it.
- Cut the caulking tube at a 45° angle with a small opening.
- Use expandable foam for filling large cracks and gaps.
Other Tips from This Episode
Simple Solutions with Joe Truini:
To save energy and water with your dishwasher, read the manual carefully to make sure you’re loading and using the dishwasher properly. Scrape dishes, rather than rinsing, to save water. Turn off the heated drying cycle to save energy.
Best New Products with Jodi Marks:
Owens Corning EcoTouch Insulation
Owens Corning EcoTouch fiberglass insulation is formaldehyde free and made from 50% recycled materials. In addition, it’s softer to the touch for less skin irritation. Owens Corning Eco-Touch insulation is available at The Home Depot in batts and rolls.
Ask Danny Lipford:
Reducing Sunlight from Windows
To reduce the heat and UV rays from sunlight through windows and glass doors, apply window film to single pane windows or glass doors. When buying new windows for your home, make sure the glass comes with a clear Low-E coating to block heat and UV rays.