Energy Saving Tips for Homeowners

reduce-energy-consumptionWith energy costs higher than ever before and many families working on a strict household budget, finding energy saving tips that actually work to reduce energy consumption and lower utility bills is an essential part of home ownership. This article will feature tips that you can use today to lower your utility bills by reducing energy waste.

Some will cost little to no money to implement, while others may require a bit of investment on your part. However, each will make an impact on the amount of energy you use each year and the amount of money you spend on utilities.

Starting Simple: Easy Things You Can Do Right Now
It is important to take baby steps at first to improve your energy consumption and change the way you think about using energy in your home. Here are five of the easiest ways to lower your energy bill:

  • Good Habits – Get in the habit of turning off lights in rooms that are not being used.
  • Water Use – Install new showerheads that reduce the amount of water required to take a shower.
  • Bulbs – Replace your older energy-consuming light bulbs with new energy-saving fluorescent bulbs.
  • Hot/Cold – Set your furnace and air-conditioning unit to “auto” instead of “on” to reduce consumption.
  • Program – Even better, install a programmable thermostat and keep your home’s temperature within a reasonable range to lower your bill.

Common Problem Areas
If your energy bill is out of control and much higher than the average bills experienced by others in your neighborhood, its time to do a check-up on the most common problem areas in your home. The first thing to do is to evaluate each and every room, including the attic, bedrooms, bathrooms, home office, living room, hallway, kitchen, basement and garage. Do any of these rooms seem warmer or cooler than other areas of your home? Make a list of specific rooms and areas within your home that have a noticeable temperature variance.

Homes that have attached or tuck-under garages, multiple attic spaces, split levels, floor overhangs, knee walls and roofed porches are much more susceptible to problems with temperature control than homes with a more simple floorplan. Also, look to see if you have duct work or heating and cooling equipment located in your crawl space, garage or attic. Homes that are designed this way are also more likely to have energy leaks and temperature control problems.

Get a Professional Evaluation
There are certain areas and projects in your home that will require a professional evaluation. Here is a list of the things that should be checked by a professional and evaluated to determine whether they need to be repaired, replaced or upgraded in order to stop temperature control problems:

  • Heating & Cooling – Hire a professional HVAC technician to determine whether you have the right sized heating and cooling unit for the size and design of your home.
  • Insulation Installation – Contact a professional insulation installation expert to determine the R-value of your current insulation materials and whether or not you need to update or add insulation to better protect your home.
  • Energy Leaks – A professional insulation installation expert can also evaluate the thermal seal of your home to ensure that you do not have energy leaks around windows, doors and other common problem areas.
  • Ventilation – A professional should check to ensure that your attic is properly ventilated and that soffit and gable vents are not blocked.

Get Professional Help
Once you have had your home evaluated by the experts and have received some ideas and energy saving tips, it’s time to hire a professional to get the job done right. When it comes to installing new HVAC equipment, such as an air conditioner or heater, make sure to choose an ENERGY STAR model that will use less energy than older, less energy-efficient models.

Consider having an ENERGY STAR ventilation fan added to your bathrooms and other areas where moisture and condensation occur. Also add ENERGY STAR ceiling fans to help move the air around your home in the summer months, reducing the amount of time you’ll need to run the air conditioner to keep your home cool and comfortable. Also, reverse the direction of the ceiling fan blades in the winter to create an updraft that mixes warm air without blowing cool air around the room. Always turn all fans off when the room is not in use.

Hire a professional insulation installation expert to improve the vapor barrier, seal off energy leaks in your attic, around windows and doors, as well as in basements and crawl spaces. Upgrade the insulation materials in your attic and anywhere else that you are experiencing heat loss in the winter or excessive heat in the summer. Consider using Icynene spray foam insulation to create an air barrier, particularly in areas that are drafty and experience temperature control problems.

Things You Can Do
There are lots of other things you can do around your home to ensure that your home is working as efficiently as possible. Temperature control problems are by far the biggest culprit in terms of energy leaks and wasting energy, so start with these areas first. The more you know about how things work and the things you can do to reduce consumption, the better you’ll be able to manage your home and reduce your energy bill.

Here is a list of other things you can do to reduce energy consumption:

  • Screens & Windows – Replace window screens in the winter months with storm windows to prevent heat loss.
  • Humidity – Run your bathroom vent fan for at least 15 minutes after taking a shower or bathing to reduce humidity and moisture in your home.
  • Unplug – Make sure to unplug power adapters and battery chargers when you are doing using them, as these items continue to draw energy even when not in use.
  • Unblock – Check your home to make sure that vents and HVAC registers are not blocked by furniture or rugs.
  • Spotlight – Turn off lights when not in use and utilize task lighting options whenever appropriate.
  • Window Treatments – Use blinds, shades and draperies to control temperature. In the winter, open them when the sun is out to bring in outdoor warmth and in the summer, keep them closed during the hottest part of the day to prevent heat from coming inside.
  • Fireplace – Close the flue damper when not in use during the summer months to prevent heat from coming inside and cold air from escaping.

Fixing Temperature Control Problems in New England
Above everything else, stopping energy leaks and fixing temperature control problems through proper insulation installation is the best thing you can do to reduce energy consumption and lower your utility bills in the New England area. Hot summers and frigid winters contribute greatly to local power bills, increasing costs for families and individuals.

Contact Richie’s Insulation for a complete evaluation of your home. Richie’s has years of knowledge and experience working with both residential and commercial customers throughout the Southern New England area, servicing clients in Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and out on the Cape. Richie’s Insulation can help spot out energy leaks and help you overcome temperature control problems throughout your home, providing professional advice, air and vapor barrier solutions and insulation installation when required.