Putting the Squeeze On Energy Bandits: Simple Tips for a Greener Home
For many of us, being less wasteful is important. You’ve tried it all: turning off the tap when you brush your teeth, taking shorter showers, switching off the TV when no one’s in the room…
Bravo - you’ve made the first steps towards savings. Now what?
There’s still more work to be done. Some of the biggest energy vampires in your house can be found near windows and failing ductwork. In fact, a lot of energy loss is due to loose, leaky structures, causing cooling and heating systems to work harder to replace lost air.
So what’s any self-respecting homeowner to do? For starters you can try these quick, affordable solutions to make your home—and wallet—a little greener.
1. Batten Down The Hatches!
While windows can hold their own against gusty winds and pelting rain, they’re actually one of the weakest links in your home’s defenses. Notorious for drafts, overheating, and energy loss, they’re a good place to focus your attention.
A. Plug Leaks
In the summer, cool air can easily leak out of poorly caulked or weather-stripped window frames. In the winter, warm air escapes. Reapplying caulking or weather-stripping to worn or peeling areas around your windows can boost your home energy defenses in a big way.
B. Prevent Heat Loss & Heat Gain
During the summer, south-facing areas can get blisteringly hot from exposure to direct sun. Placing a barrier on your window prevents solar radiation from cooking your home’s interior. Barriers are also great for capturing warm air during the winter.
Think blackout curtains or window shades. These devices are easy to install and fit over existing windows with little effort. As a bonus: they could improve sleep by keeping sunlight out.
2. Patch Leaky Ductwork
Central heating systems rely on a tangled web of ductwork to move warm and cool air around your home. Starting from the furnace unit, ductwork extends out towards air vents, eventually returning again to the furnace—making a full loop-de-loop through return ducts.
Manufactured from sheet metal pipes, joints, and fittings, ducts are a common source of energy inefficiency and leaks. Once a leaky duct is found, mastic—a thick, gooey substance—can be applied to seal the gap between metal.
Fiberglass tape is also helpful for larger leaks, when mastic alone isn’t enough. The infamous duct tape is best left for a quick fix, since it’s more prone to failure in the long term.
If your home is gobbling up energy, start with a few of these simple tips. But remember, small changes can only yield small results. If you’re looking for dramatic savings, investing in a ductless option to replace an inefficient heating and cooling system can save you hundreds of dollars every year.