Ways to Improve Your Home’s Efficiency
By Michelle Ochsner
Heating and cooling your home can impact your energy cost up to 50 percent. Here are some tips to help reduce those costs and increase comfort.
- Upgrading or adding insulation will give your home an adequate thermal barrier that most houses lack, depending on the year it was built. Insulation levels are measured by R-Value to determine the heat flow. The higher the value the more resistant. In the Treasure Valley, energystar.gov recommends having R49 in an uninsulated attic, R38 to existing insulation, R20 for wall insulation, and R30 for floor insulation.
Check with the local power company as they may have insulation incentives through certain home improvement programs.
- Seal all heating and cooling ducts and seams with duct sealant or metal-backed tape to prevent air leaks. Wrap with insulation to greater prevent seepage to stop air from getting through the thin metal walls. This improves energy costs by up 20 percent. If the ducts in your home are difficult to get to, call an HVAC contractor. Compare prices and ask friends or family who might know of a reputable company. Ask for referrals, and call them. Protect your investment by hiring a contractor who is legit.
- Upgrade old windows throughout your home. Windows can let the cool air in during the winter and hot air during the summer. The department of energy recommends replacing old windows, skylights, and glass doors with more efficient frameworks to prevent air leaks. Look for National Fenestration Rating Council, NFRC, ratings when selecting a better performing window. Select double pained windows with wood, vinyl, or fiberglass frames that include compressing seals for a more airtight fit.
- Shading accessories are a great way to help save on energy costs. Thermal drapes that are thick and heavy will not only block out solar heat but also prevent cool air from seeping in. One can also add an insulated lining behind the drapes for an added layer. Place vertical thermal shades or shutters on windows facing east and west. On inside south-facing windows, put up horizontal shades or shutters. Outside your home place overhangs, awnings, or plant trees and shrubs to block out sunlight.