Cost efficiency is something that may concern you in many aspects of your life. From paying for vehicle repairs to business expenses, saving money is always important. Furthermore, one of the most significant sources of worries regarding cost efficiency is your home. As such, you may be spending much more than you need to on utilities because your home is not energy-efficient.
According to 2018 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average American homeowner spends 11 percent of his or her income on home maintenance costs such as utilities.
If you want to reduce your utility spending below the national average, addressing cost efficiency issues is essential. However, you may think that you cannot afford to make major repairs or changes to your home. Overall, there are several easy ways to make your home more energy-efficient and, by extension, more cost-efficient. Below are some suggestions to help you improve the cost efficiency in your home with minimal effort.
Schedule a Home Energy Audit
The U.S. Department of Energy uses a specific rating system to assess the energy efficiency in a home. Thus, you can hire a trained auditor to conduct a home energy audit using the guidelines of that rating system. Doing so allows you to determine exactly how to improve your home in order to make it more cost-efficient. The home energy audit consists of assessments of:
- Cooling and heating
- Water heating system.
Furthermore, these types of audits involve allowing an auditor to walk through your home and use special equipment, as well as general observations, to identify potential energy efficiency issues. As the audit is conducted, the auditor points out areas where your home efficiency can be improved. Moreover, you are allowed to ask questions as the auditor walks through your home. He or she can answer those questions and make suggestions for how you can make certain improvements. Then, you can use such information to make any necessary changes to your home, rather than spending time and money on unnecessary alterations. Thus, by having a home energy audit, you are saving time and money in the long run.
Seal Air Leaks and Insulate Your Home
In addition to having a home energy audit, there are several changes you can make that are almost guaranteed to increase the cost efficiency of your home and reduce household costs. One of those changes is to seal any air leaks you can find and install proper insulation. With that said, make sure to take those steps in that order, as air can continue to leak and circulate around insulation if leaks are not filled before the insulation is installed.
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To find air leaks in your home, you may check obvious places such as around windows and doors. Then, you can plug such leaks with caulk or weather stripping. Lastly, you may look for any other areas where drafts can be detected. In order to detect such leaks, you may do the following:
- Visually locate holes leading to the outside of your home with a flashlight at night.
- Feel air drafts with your hands in obvious areas, such as on exterior walls.
- Use the flames or smoke from candles or incense sticks to detect air currents and trace them back to their sources.
After plugging all of the air leaks you can find in your home, you may start the insulation process. First and foremost, you must choose a type of insulation based on your needs and budget. For example, fiberglass insulation comes in large sheets and is easy to self-install in a large area, such as your attic. Overall, your attic is likely to be one of the spots in your home most in need of insulation. In order to improve the energy and cost efficiency in your home more, you must insulate your walls and crawl spaces.
Reduce the Water Consumption in Your Home
Excessive water consumption in your home can be a major source of additional expenditures. For instance, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, water leaking from a faucet at a rate of one drip per second wastes 1,661 gallons per year, which also wastes money. By fixing such a leak, you help the environment and decrease your expenses with utilities.
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Similarly, taking a bath or using a shower with an inefficient shower head wastes a lot of water. A single full bathtub holds approximately 36 gallons. Additionally, a low-flow showerhead expels approximately 2 gallons each minute. Therefore, showering for less than 18 minutes is more water-efficient and cost-effective than taking a bath. Other methods you can use to reduce water consumption and save money include:
- Turning the water off while brushing your teeth.
- Purchasing water-efficient toilets and appliances.
- Updating your faucets and fixtures with energy-efficient replacements.
- Re-purposing water used for such activities as rinsing foods for other purposes, such as watering your garden.
- Capturing rainwater for lawn irrigation and other uses.
Use Efficient Home Heating and Cooling Procedures
Heating and cooling your home efficiently is very important, particularly if you want your home to be cost-efficient. One way to do so is to use the seasons and times of day to your advantage. For example, the use of proper window treatments can help you keep your home cooler during summer and warmer over the winter. Installing reflective blinds can be particularly useful in the summer, reducing heat penetrating into your home by up to 45 percent in some cases. However, any window treatments are better than none.
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Another way to improve heating and cooling efficiency in your home is to inspect your duct system, which must be cleaned regularly. In addition, make sure to plug any holes in your ductwork where air may be escaping. Such an issue may be identifiable if there is a particular area in your home that seems warmer or colder than another area. Furthermore, insulating your ductwork can improve heating and cooling efficiency throughout your home.
You must also examine your thermostat usage and carefully control the temperature of your home. Adjusting your thermostat when you leave the home for any length of time or go to bed at night saves you money. You can also install a programmable thermostat for maximum efficiency. As such, select a type of programmable thermostat that offers settings that are suitable to the scheduling needs of your family. For example, a seven-day thermostat offers the option to set different temperature requirements for each day of the week. Another model may only allow you to select weekday and weekend settings.