The concrete jungle is expanding every minute, and there is no stopping urbanization. There are more buildings than there are parks and trees in the main city. In the USA, the US Department of Energy uses the Home Energy Score rating system to rate the energy efficiency of homes. In any country, the extent of energy efficiency of a building depends on many factors including the roofing, windows, heating system, water heating system, air filtration or air cooling system, and much more. An environment-friendly, energy efficient example of architecture takes dedication and awareness. Only a combination of smart architectural skills and a love for the environment can result in a sustainable construction that cuts down the energy costs.
Can you turn your house into an energy efficient home?
Many people shy away from creating an energy efficient home because they believe the transformation to be expensive and labor intensive. While it is true that all good things need a little effort, it is also true that you can take small steps towards transforming your house into an energy-efficient and sustainable home. To begin the change, first, complete a home energy audit. It will help you understand how your home expends the energy and which energy saving feature is the most cost-effective for your abode.
When we began, we found out that our storage type water heater and home heating system were hogging all the power. We were always on a tight budget because we ended up spending the lion’s share of the money on bills and repairs. We knew that advanced house framing wasn’t an option for us since we were not looking forward to a major rebuild or renovation.
We decided to take baby steps towards becoming an energy efficient home and an environmentally-aware family. For days I went through the research material from different government agencies and home remodeling companies to find out which method would suit our needs the best. In the end, I found a couple of cost-effective ways to control our energy costs.
Don’t worry; you will not have to go through days of research and price comparison to find the most effective way. I have listed some of the best repair and renovation techniques on a shoe-string budget (some of them were DIY) that can help you curb energy costs.
Air sealing – air sealing and insulation share a strong relationship. Under-the-door drafts and rattling windows are apparent signs of air leaks that do away with your indoor heating or cooling efficiency. In case you do not know how to locate these leaks, hire a professional technician to run a blower door test.
Check all exterior corners, junction of the chimneys and siding and outdoor water faucets. Inside, check the switch plates, attic hatches, TV and phone lines, vents, baseboards and fireplace dampers for leaks. I have found air sealing to offer the highest payback among all other options. It can reduce up to 30% air infiltration across your home.
Attic insulation – not a lot of us pay attention to the attic. I, for one, am guilty of treating our attic as another storage room for years. As the family has grown, more and more things have accumulated in the attic. I know people, who wear sweaters and leg warmers indoors to cut the skyrocketing energy costs during the winter months, but they overlook comfort to save money. In your home, you should be able to move freely without feeling the weight of bulky pullovers and jackets all the time.
One of the easiest ways of saving on bills is by taking care of your attic. Check it from time to time for insulation leaks. Inspect the inside of the ceiling for cracks, visible holes or gaps between the insulation materials. Insulate the floor by stuffing non-conducting material under the flooring. That will keep you comfortable in the warm climates, and it will keep you snug in the winters. If you are going DIY on the attic insulation, pick either batt or loose fill. Mineral wool and cotton work amazingly well, but it comes with a significantly higher price tag. You can check out our solar powered attic fans review here.
Energy-friendly windows – if you have traditional glass windows, you need to think about energy efficient window replacement options. We were using black glass windows in the bedroom to keep the indoors cozy. There were times when we would keep the ambient light on even during the daytime since there was little natural light flowing in. After the audit, my family decided to forego the dark glasses and embrace energy efficient designs.
Don’t get me wrong! You can find these energy-friendly windows in colored material as well, but since our bedroom windows do not get enough natural daylight, we decided to go with transparent ones. Irrespective of the shades, the UV-resistant and smart coating on the windows can save almost 25% to 30% of your energy. If you do not want to replace your windows, you can go for DIY upgrades. We did this to our living room windows, and we love the results. Not only is the room much cooler in the summer months, but it also retains heat much longer in the chilly winter days.
You can easily weather-strip the double-hung windows, add storm panels and include solar control films. Adding exterior blinds, awnings and overhangs also help in reducing the natural heat transmission through the windows. They have an impressive payback of about ten years.
Other small steps can include replacing your lighting with LEDs, propane-fueled fireplaces, and energy efficient HVAC system choices can save you a fortune on energy bills. These are elective upgrades you can conduct once your home already has an energy-efficient, environmentally friendly and sustainable framework in place. I have listed the changes with the highest payback – the time it took for us to recuperate the costs of modification and replacement in terms of energy cost savings. Turning a house into a sustainable home is not difficult at all, especially if you have the zeal to make a difference. Additionally, during these remodels and touchups, we found out that such activities can bring the family together on holidays and weekends.
At Comfy Home Corner we are dedicated in providing the best tips and product reviews to assist you with creating a better environment for your home.