While new homes are being built to be more energy efficient than ever before, thanks to a growing green building movement and increasingly strict building codes, the age of existing dwellings continues to present challenges. More than 40 percent of the housing stock in the United States was built before 1969 and simply wouldn’t stand up to today’s standards. Yet, much can be done to help homeowners improve their building envelope to reduce energy use and increase efficiency.
Improving your home’s energy efficiency can help save money, keep you more comfortable, reduce pollution, and prevent global warming. Try these five simple measures to maximize the energy efficiency of your home:
1. Seal cracks and gaps around your home’s windows, doors, and vents. These can be a considerable source of energy loss, allowing conditioned air to escape and unconditioned air to infiltrate your home, placing stress on your furnace and air conditioner in the process. An easy DIY solution is to caulk around windows, doors, and vents, and install or replace worn weatherstripping. An average home loses up to 30 percent of its energy through air leaks, so sealing your home is a worthwhile exercise.
2. Top up or replace old insulation in your attic. A poorly insulated attic is a primary source of energy loss. Also, over time, some types of insulation can settle and compact, allowing heat to escape through gaps. Experts recommend installing a dimensionally stable batt insulation like a Roxul product called Comfortbatt. Aim for an r-value of at least R-50, or a depth of roughly 16 inches.
3. Insulate basement headers. Uninsulated basement headers are common, especially in older homes. They can act as a gateway for heated air to escape. Fixing the problem is fast and easy. Simply cut Comfortbatt stone wool insulation to fit the cavity and compress into place. Doing this throughout your basement will prevent heat loss and can potentially save hundreds of dollars each year.
4. Switch to LED light bulbs. Some LED light bulbs have a lifespan of up to 10 years, and are 80 to 90 percent more efficient than incandescent bulbs. They are generally more environmentally friendly than CFLs and safer, too, since they produce less heat. The return on investment is excellent, as LED bulbs often pay for themselves through energy savings within the first year.
5. Consider a home energy audit. This will help you identify and target specific problematic areas of energy loss. A professional home energy audit will also provide a list of recommended solutions to help you maximize your energy-efficiency strategy.