Room-by-Room Energy Updates
Save money (and energy!) with these simple home upgrades
Save money (and energy!) with these simple upgrades, from small tweaks—like turning down your water heater—to larger improvements, such as adding insulation. Read on for this room-by-room home energy guide.
"People are inundated with commercials for replacing windows," says Asa Foss, LEED Residential Technical Development Director of the U.S. Green Building Council. "There are other good reasons to change them out, but saving energy isn't one of them."
In fact, Foss says, there are a lot of other areas in your home where energy is escaping—and it's not through your windows. Changing out windows might reduce the energy loss in your home by 2 to 5 percent, but not by 20 to 30 percent to be worth the high cost, generally speaking.
So where can you make a positive energy-saving and financially beneficial impact in your home? Read on for this room-by-room guide.
Basement & Attic
Insulate it. Once you air seal your attic and basement, insulate them—particularly your attic floor. Foss explains that if you don't have much space, you could use a product that offers more insulation per inch, such as spray foam, even though it is pricey. Otherwise, he suggests using cellulose insulation, because it's made out of recycled newspaper and does a great job of uniformly insulating an area.
Keep in mind, he says, that batt insulation can be used for walls but not for an attic floor, because it creates gaps, and it's not uncommon to see 10 percent gaps. Foss explains: "Energy travels through the path of least resistance. If there is a 5 percent gap in insulation, it renders the entire insulation value of the attic in half."
Turn down the hot water heater. "Most tanks won't have temperatures listed—they will say warm to hot," says Foss. "A lot of people have their water heaters turned up too high," he says, explaining that they're paying to overheat their water and are creating a scalding risk. "What I tell people to do is to turn down the temperature on the tank just a little every couple of days until it reaches the point in shower where it's not hot enough for them in the shower, and then turn up the heat on the tank a little until it's just as hot as they need it and not any hotter."
Keep in mind that seasonal weather changes can impact the temperature, so you'll need to make adjustments during those periods.
Also check out: Attic Remodel Ideas.