As the temperatures begin to drop outside, homeowners are forced to turn up the thermostats in their homes. If the predictions are correct, the cold weather this year will lead to astronomical energy bills in many households. Fortunately, there are some maintenance steps you can take to increase your homeís energy efficiency and stay warm without breaking the bank.
Get Credit For Home Improvement Projects
Tax breaks lower the costs of home energy efficiency upgrades. Find out what tax breaks or grants you might be eligible for before you begin replacing exterior windows, water heaters and windows, and installing insulation. Donít forget the long-term savings youíll get from improving your homeís energy efficiency.
Check Your Furnace
Energy companies, such as North American Power, can help you discover problem areas, such as an inefficient furnace or heat loss, by way of a free energy audit.
A dirty or inefficient furnace will not circulate air in the house. Simple repairs with duct mastic and duct tape can do a lot to improve its efficiency.
If your furnace is more than 10-12 years old, replacing it may lower your heating bills by as much as 30 percent. Modern furnaces are more efficient than their older counterparts, and if you decide to replace your unit, look for one with the highest S.E.E.R. (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating) that your budget allows.
Insulate Your Attic
Insulating your attic is an easy do-it-yourself project that you can complete in a couple hours and with a small budget. For best results, use at least 12 inches of insulation and youíll keep warm air from escaping through the roof.
Insulating your attic is a worthwhile investment, and youíll recoup the money spent as savings on your energy bill. A well-insulated attic will keep hot air from influencing the cool air from your air conditioner in the summer, and prevent hot air from escaping in winter.
Install Programmable Thermostats
Use a programmable thermostat to regulate your homeís temperature based on your familyís schedule. Instead of manually adjusting your thermostat, you can invest in a programmable thermostat to control heating and reduce your energy bill. For instance, you can set the thermostat to reduce the temperature during the day when your family is at work and school, and increase the temperature an hour before you arrive home. Choose a thermostat that will let you override the settings if you must change your schedule for one day.
Make Windows More Efficient
As attractive as your windows might be, they are one of the places where your home loses a lot of heat in the winter. Double-glazing is an obvious and effective way to reduce heat loss, but is also one of the most expensive solutions. Clean the glass and the area around the windows before you attempt to caulk gaps and cracks. Heavy drapes that fall well below the window provide another inexpensive way to keep heat in.
Simple things make a warm difference when youíre trying to improve your homeís efficiency. Reverse the ceiling fans to recirculate the warm air that rises to the top of the room and wear warm clothes around the house. With these simple steps, you can stay warm and avoid paying more on your energy bill.
Charles Talley is always on the lookout for ways to save money. An avid blogger, he likes to share what he finds by posting mainly on home energy, homeowner and DIY websites.