Lower Your Utility Bills – Part 7: The Power of Insulation
|August 30, 2014||Posted by Tracy Knutsen under Frugal Tips and Tricks|
When coming up with ways to lower your utility bills, we often forget about the energy that we’re losing right out the window. Literally speaking, we’re talking about the heat and air conditioning that leaks out of the house. There are a number of areas where heated or cooled air can easily escape to the outdoors if you’re not careful. The best and most cost efficient way to stop the leaks is to first find the source. So, where are the leaks and what do we do about them once they’re found? Let’s take a look at the first step:
Ask the Experts
Calling in the professionals ensures that you get the job done right. Have a professional energy assessment performed on your home. Check with your local power company first as they may offer this inspection free of charge. This assessment will provide you with information on the biggest offenders in your home’s energy system. They will then suggest ways to remedy each situation.
These professionals will share their knowledge and high tech equipment, which may include infrared cameras, surface thermometers, blower doors, and furnace efficiency meters. The goal is to detect the sources of energy loss in your home and fix them to save money on your heating and cooling bills over time. When the professional finds the sources that are leaking, the first defense recommended is usually added insulation.
Target the Insulation
The main areas where insulation is usually lacking include the attic, the door leading to the attic, the ducts running through any uninsulated spaces, plug and light switches on exterior walls, ineffective windows, cathedral ceilings, floors over garages and the basement. This list may seem overwhelming, but a professional energy assessment will help you narrow down the areas you need to target to get the greatest results.
Some insulation jobs are great for the do-it-yourself homeowner interested in saving money each and every month. Explore YouTube, HGTV, and The DIY channels to get some ideas of what you can do, and also shouldn’t do.
Be sure to take into consideration your own region and the requirements for insulation. Each area of the country has different suggested R-values for walls and ceilings. Research the materials before you begin. Of course, your home improvement store will have qualified individuals ready and willing to assist you in your project. You may even find a class or two there or at your local technical school or county extension office.
Installing insulation can be one of the easier jobs for the home improvement newbie, but the rewards are huge. An afternoon spent crawling around amongst the rafters in your attic can net you some big savings on your next utility bill. With a little know how and some help, the ambitious homeowner can tackle these insulating jobs with success.
The Smallest Improvements Help
the least talented homeowner my husband can do a few home improvements that will add up to considerable savings over time, and that means you can, too! For instance, an often missed area for air leaks is around electrical outlets. Buy ready cut foam insulating gaskets and, with just a screwdriver, you can stop the air leak that occurs around the outlets.
Easy to use spray foam is again perfect for the do-it-yourself homeowner who wants to tackle the air loss around dryer vents, plumbing, and other places the outdoors meets the indoors. Follow simple instructions and within minutes, you will have a trouble spot sealed tight. And don’t forget that simple caulking around the windows can stop some serious leaks and save some serious money. This process is easy to learn, and with just a few practice runs you’ll be caulking like a pro in no time.
Not every home insulation project has to be a huge renovation. Yes, replacing old windows and doors may be desirable at some point, but once you know where the house is leaking air, you can start with the simplest things. Watch the heating and cooling bills drop after just a few of these improvements and you’ll be ready to grab the tool belt and do even more!
Continue through the rest of the series here, and start saving money today!