During the warm seasons, we tend to spend so much time outside we often neglect simple updates that can help make our homes more efficient. Here are a few suggestions for creating an energy-efficient home for the new year.
We tend to notice air gaps and lack of insulation in our homes the most during cold weather. Instead of wasting more energy and money by cranking the thermostat higher to fight leaks, now is the perfect time to detect and stop them. Since the weather outside is most likely colder than your home’s interior, it is easy to check for these leaks by simply passing your hand over the edges of doors and windows to feel for drafts. Upon finding these gaps, you can easily fill them with weather-stripping or caulking. Adhesive-backed EPDM rubber offers a suitable insulation material and can last at least 10 years. Be wary of purchasing cheap weather-stripping as their low price often reflects their shorter lifespan. Filling the gaps now will help keep your home insulated from the current cold and preserve your interior during the hot days of summer.
As we all know, hot air rises, and depending on how well your ceiling and attic are insulated, you may be losing significant heat through the top of your home. Studies show attics are the biggest energy drains as they have multiple intrusion points. Small gaps are often found around recessed light cans, piping, and wiring. Although air leaks around recessed cans seem small, consider that the quantity of these lights can be more than 20 in some homes, thus forming one of the more significant energy-suckers.
Looking at the interior label of your recessed lights can help you determine if you have energy-draining cans. Lights with labels reading “ICAT”—or “insulation contact and air-tight”—are already sealed. If you don’t have this label on your lights, the leak can be easily fixed by adding an air-tight baffle. Simply remove the bulb, snap the baffle into the existing housing unit, and you’re done. No uncomfortable crawling in your attic is necessary!
Adding energy-efficient light bulbs is another easy winter project. Today’s energy-efficient light bulbs have come a long way in both style and options. Most stores carry energy-saving incandescent types and, although they offer roughly 25 percent more efficiency than your standard incandescent bulbs, compact fluorescents (CFL) and LEDs offer more than double the efficiency with 10 to 25 times the lifespan of your current incandescent. By changing your old light bulbs to a CFL or LED bulb, you will not only lower your electricity bill, but also reap the benefits of their longer lifespan, which will require less bulb replacements.
Be sure when installing your energy-efficient bulbs that you are using the right lighting color. While efficiency is important, the right color can go a long way in creating a suitable room ambience. A bright white bulb can give a blue-ish color, while a daylight bulb can offer a warm feel. In places like your garage or closets, a bright white bulb is helpful for functionality, but can come off sterile and cold when used in more intimate settings, like living or dining rooms.
The latest lighting innovations have combined smartphone and home-automation technology with light bulbs, giving us bulbs that can not only be controlled by our phone, but also offer Bluetooth capability. Your home can be both more efficient and more tech-savvy with the usage of smartphone-controlled light bulbs that can schedule on-and-off routines, change color, and even play music. These advanced bulbs that can be found at your local hardware store are surprisingly affordable, and are easily pairable with any smartphone.
So, the next time you are sheltered inside from the season’s chilly rain, take a maintenance stroll around your interior. Making simple corrections and updates can require almost no tools and little time, ideal for even the least handy weekend warrior. Plus, your wallet will thank you the next time your energy bill arrives!