Did you know that 75,000 of homes waste as much energy annually as contained in the entire BP Gulf oil spill? At least according to EnergySavvy.com. Every gap, inefficient HVAC system and bad habit is an energy suck to the environment. Try these simple tricks around the house to do your part in reducing your carbon footprint and your energy bill.
Check Your Air Conditioner
Schedule a tune-up to ensure your air conditioner is running efficiently and ask the repairman to show you how to change the filters. Change filters monthly to keep them clean and efficient. If you have washable filters, they usually can be cleaned by soaking them in a solution made of one part vinegar and one part water to preserve their lifespan. If you live in a particularly dusty area or have pets who shed, you may need to replace them more often.
Go on Window Patrol
Use the weather to your advantage and remember to dress them the opposite of how you would dress yourself. During hot days, keep windows closed and covered up to keep heat out. On cool nights, open your windows and shed their coverings to let a cool breeze in. For added circulation, turn on an Energy Star ceiling fan to move cool air through the room.
Do a Home Energy Audit
Hire a professional to do an energy audit to look for air leaks and assess the energy wastes in your home. If you can't quite afford a professional, do an audit yourself to save on costs. Start with the outside. Look at all exterior corners of your home and outdoor water faucets to look for any cracks. Don’t forget to check areas that are often forgotten like where your home’s siding meets the chimney and where the foundation meets your home.
Inside, check your electrical outlets, window frames, fireplace, vents, baseboards and any location where wires enter the home like phone or cable cords. Your bathrooms can also be an overlooked area for energy wasters. Look around the pipes connected to the toilet and sink to find any loose fixtures or gaps that need to be sealed. Most nominal gaps and cracks can be sealed with some inexpensive caulk or weatherstripping to help keep air out.
Remember the Rest of Your Property
Don’t stop with your house when doing an energy audit. What’s on the rest of your property? It might need some TLC too. If your garage is attached to your home, caulk and weatherstrip any cracks and install a door draft guard in front of the door leading from your garage into the home. Even the garage attic may need to be better insulated or included in your energy audit for maximum efficiency.
Look in your backyard next. A screened-in porch also needs some attention (similar to the garage) to keep drafts from sweeping into your home. An outdoor hot tub or spa should also be added to your checklist. An energy-efficient spa should operate at less than $20 per month, according to HotTubWorks.com. If yours is running your bill any higher than that, invest in a durable cover to trap heat inside and protect it at the same time. Remember to adjust its heater and keep it low on days when it's not in use.