Our nation has been experiencing some very unpredictable weather this year, and with that comes unpredictable energy bills. Most Americans are spending hundreds of dollars each month on these bills and they are still hot in the summer and cold in the winter.
But don’t worry, there are other ways than having to resort to creek baths and candlelight to save money.
What many people don’t realize is that there are some simple home improvements one can do that will drastically reduce energy bills and better regulate the temperature and conditions inside the house. All it takes is a small upfront cost and some remodeling skills, and you could be savings big bucks when the bills come in next month. And if you don’t want to fix things yourself you could always call a company like ACI Roofing.
Not only will you be saving money with these improvements, but you will also be helping to save the environment by using less energy when heating, cooling and using electricity in your home.
So here are seven basic home improvement projects that will lower your monthly energy bills.
- Stock up on insulation. Insulation is the pinky fluffy stuff that slices your hands with invisible glass. It is also the stuff that helps regulate the temperature in your house without keeping the thermostat on extremes. To keep your home cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter you can simply add more insulation. The attic is the most obvious spot, though people with garages will do well to remember it can go there to. If you want to get really serious you can even add more behind the walls of your rooms. And if you have an older house it might be a good idea to replace all of the insulation with a newer, more efficient brand.
- Replace air filters. Replacing the air filters on the air conditioning unit is an easy task, but it is one that most people overlook. Your AC unit is one of the biggest factors in monthly energy costs. In the middle of the summer it may be impossible not to turn it up, but you will save yourself a lot of money if it isn’t having to struggle to push air through dirty filters. Basically you should change your air filters when they get dirty, but a good rule of thumb is to replace them every 30 to 60 days.
- Install a programmable thermostat. The easiest way to fix energy consumption with cooling and heating is to turn off the AC when you’re away from home. But to make things easier, and to ensure that you won’t return to below-freezing temperatures, you should invest in a programmable thermostat. With this you can set a schedule that will save money when you’re away and cool or heat the house right before you return. You can also set it to turn off when you go to bed and to turn back on when you’re about to get up. The Nest is a good example of this kind of nifty gadget that will help you save money. [Read: 10 Money-Saving Gadgets for Everyday Use]
- Seal the doors and windows. Air is always finding a way to creep in and out of your house around the edges of your doors and windows, and when it does it can send your electricity bill skyrocketing. Lowering your bills means making sure that indoor air stays inside and that outdoor air is kept out where it belongs. To do this you should put weather stripping around your windows and doors. Weather stripping is great because it is an easy and inexpensive DIY project. If you already have this installed then you should go back over it with caulk to double check. The rule is if you can see sunlight coming through cracks, they should be covered up.
- Clean your vents. Not only should you replace your air filters every so often, but you should also be cleaning your vents on a regular basis. You can get the vents professionally cleaned if you feel it is necessary, or you can save money by using the narrow tube on your vacuum cleaner to suck up dust and dirt. You will have a couple of large AC vents but you should also have a few smaller floor vents and such, so be sure to carefully check every room of the house. Also check to make sure nothing is blocking the vents. A bookcase or piece of furniture over the vent will restrict air flow, force the air conditioning unit to work harder, and raise your utility bills.
- Replace your light bulbs. Another big way to cut costs in your house is to upgrade all of your old incandescent light bulbs, if you haven’t already. Energy-efficient lighting is becoming the next big craze in sustainable living, and many people are already hopped on board. And as far as energy efficiency goes the curlicue compact fluorescent lights are at the head of the game. These CFLs use 75% less energy, emit 75% less heat, and last about six times as long as a regular bulb. So they may be a little bit more expensive than the old light bulbs, but they are certainly worth the upfront cost with all the money they will save you in the long run.
- Upgrade to Energy Star appliances. Energy Star is the government-backed golden standard for energy-efficient appliances and products. Products earn the label only when they meet a list of criteria, such as delivering increased energy efficiency, contributing a significant energy savings, and providing measured and verified testing. Those looking to save money on their energy bill and help protect the environment should look into replacing some or all of their old energy-sucking appliances with the new Energy Star options. Everything from dishwashers, refrigerators, and dehumidifiers to computers and TVs have Energy Star equivalents on the market. So there is no excuse to upgrading, other than the upfront cost.
It is great to be a Do-It-Yourself project lover, because there are many great home improvement ideas and doing them yourself instead of paying someone else will save even more money. If you are looking to put a cap on your outrageous energy bills, and you do not mind saving the environment in the process, then these seven projects are a good way to get started.
If you have other ideas that you have heard or that have worked for you, please feel free to share them in the comment section below!