Major home improvement projects, such as installing an energy-efficient furnace or adding insulation, typically require a qualified professional. However, there are a number of energy-saving projects you can do yourself. With a little time and effort, you can realize big savings on your energy bills.
Where do you begin your personal quest for lower energy bills? How about changing a light bulb? ENERGY STAR®-certified LEDs use at least 75% less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs and last much longer.
Next, install WaterSense-labeled low-flow shower heads and faucet aerators. These typically cost less than $20 to purchase and they can stop the drain on water and energy costs.
DIY energy savings
Looking to take on a little more? Here are some easy, low-cost projects you can tackle yourself.
Install a programmable thermostat
A programmable unit saves energy by automatically adjusting temperatures while you are asleep or when you are away from home. Newer "smart" models provide advanced features, such as remote control and self-programming.
- Select a location away from vents, windows or other sources of drafts.
- Follow manufacturer's instructions regarding proper installation.
- Typically, thermostats only require low voltage wiring. Remember to shut off power before beginning work.
If the job requires more than just a simple replacement, consider contacting a qualified professional.
Air seal your attic
Leaks in unfinished attics can waste energy, even when adequate insulation is installed.
- Locate all ceiling fans, recessed lighting fixtures and electrical outlets in the ceiling below your attic. Each of these is a potential source of air leakage.
- From the attic, pull back the insulation to find the cutouts and seal them with caulk or expandable foam.
- Check for and seal gaps around plumbing vents, furnace flues and ductwork.
- Seal the attic access with weatherstripping.
Seal and insulate ducts
Furnace ducts can waste a substantial amount of energy. Sealing and insulating ducts can reduce heating and cooling costs by up to 20% or more, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
- Use mastic tape to seal ductwork joints in unheated spaces, such as your attic, crawlspace or garage.
- Wrap the ducts in insulation to increase their energy efficiency.
- Seal and insulate any ducts you can access in the conditioned part of your house.
To save even more, hire a qualified professional to perform an energy audit of your home. You'll receive a customized set of recommendations to optimize your home's energy efficiency and comfort.