Getting the most for your dollar in making your home more efficient is all about choosing effective solutions for your home, and sorting fact from fiction in the promotional material. Some of the simplest and most inexpensive improvements can make a big difference to your annual energy costs. Last month we outlined a very cost-effective means (potentially a free upgrade in Canada) of decreasing heating costs by enhancing attic insulation. Here are a few other areas that can be improved at very little cost:
Hot Water Tank: Cover the tank with a hot water tank insulator, or even an old duvet. Any extra insulation will cut energy costs. Accessible pipes can be covered with inexpensive pipe insulation and don’t forget to turn the tank off when you leave the home for a few days. Also, turn down the heat setting. Hot water tanks account for 18 percent of home energy costs, so this can add up to significant savings.
Doors and Windows: With time all homes become draftier, and it is important to upgrade weather stripping around doors and windows. During windy weather locate any air leaks and remedy the problem with weather stripping, caulk or other sealers.
Lights: Replace light bulbs (except for ones on a dimmer switch) with fluorescent bulbs. The actual savings varies depending on home design, season and other factors (since the waste heat given off by incandescent lights actually reduces the load on the heating system), but undeniably there are savings.
Trees: Strategically planted trees can save on your home’s heating costs. A large deciduous tree on the southern side of the home helps to shade the home in summer, and allows radiant heat from the sun through in the winter. Conifers can also be planted to shield the home from prevailing winds.