If your home is poorly insulated, your HVAC system is going to have a much harder time doing its job. For this reason, adjusting your thermostat isn’t always the best answer to keeping your home at a comfortable temperature. If you are struggling to keep your home at an acceptable temperature, here are some tips for making your home more energy efficient.
1. Increase insulation – If your home suffers from inadequate insulation, this may seem like the simplest solution. In some cases, it may very well be the right solution. However, if you have additional issues or you don’t own your home, it may not work for you. That being said, those who can make changes should first visit the amount and type of insulation present in their home and improve the situation to hold in the heat or cool air that is being lost. You should check walls, lofts, floors, and ceilings for adequate insulation.
2. Stop air leaks – Find any locations in your home where air might be leaking out. The most common culprits are around door and window frames or through floorboards, joints, chimneys and loft hatches. While you can invest in a thermal leak detector, it is far less expensive to simply hold a candle near areas where leaks are suspected and see if the flame directs away from where air is blowing in or toward where air is blowing out. Shoring up any air leaks will greatly improve your HVAC’s ability to heat and cool your home.
3. Draught-proofing – If you are unable to eliminate an air leak such as those that may flow from around doors or windows, you can opt for draught proofing them. Gaps beneath the bottom or sides of external doors can be negated by installing a draught excluder. These can be purchased online or at any DIY retailer. If you are crafty, you can even make your own from rolled up towels or old clothes, Keyhole covers and letterbox brushes can also prevent small gaps coming through the orifices of your door.
4. Close the flue – If you have a fireplace in your home that you don’t use, you likely already have closed the flue, but you can get more traction against air coming down through it by installing an inflatable chimney balloon or creating a plug from newspapers or old pillows. Just be certain everyone in your household is aware that you’ve done so to prevent a fire being started without knowing there is a stoppage inside.
5. Weather proof windows – While you may not want to do so in the warmer months when you may open or close your windows for fresh air, winter weather can be kept at bay by covering your windows in cling film or weathering plastic. If you prefer to keep your windows uncovered, you can opt for self-sticking foam weathering strips to help seal any leaks around the edges.
6. Install double glazed windows – If you own your home, you might want to invest in double-glazing. Though replacing your windows with double paned windows can be an expense, it will pay for itself in reduced energy costs.
7. Buy thermal curtains – When you close your curtains, you prevent air from escaping through any leaks. The thicker the curtain, the more this is true. By hanging thermal curtains over doors and windows, you can prevent air loss. While commercial options are available, you will do just as well by adding additional material to existing curtains.
8. Invest in rugs – Just as thermal curtains help keep air from escaping, rugs can do the same on a floor that may have gaps in the surface. By laying rugs on floors such as those that are made of hardwood and may have air escaping through the boards, rugs can help block out this leakage. Alternately, you can fill them with a sealant fairly cheaply or insulate them if you have more to spend.
9. HVAC Maintenance – It is important that your HVAC always operates at its highest level. This keeps you comfortable and prevents unnecessary repairs or damage. You should have your HVAC system serviced at least once a year, but it is even more optimal to have routine maintenance done twice per year, once before you turn on your AC for the season and once before you turn on your heat for the season.
10. Take control of your controls – A programmable thermostat gives you much more control of your heating and cooling system than a static one that requires manual changes. Think how much money you could save if you could set the temperature of your home to a setting that would use less electricity while you are away from home but shift to a more comfortable level shortly before you arrive home. A programmable thermostat lets you do this. Many models also let you control the temperature remotely.
11. Wrap your pipes – When you are evaluating the energy efficiency of your home, you may not have considered the pipes. While many people will adjust the temperature on their water heater to a more energy efficient setting, they don’t consider that wrapping the pipes will help the appliance retain more heat. Wrapping the pipes in a simple foam tube that can be purchased at your local DIY will improve the energy efficiency and prevent any chances of freezing if in a completely uninsulated location such as a basement.
While the ultimate answer to dealing with a home that is poorly insulated is to improve the amount of insulation present, there are other factors that will make this improvement alone inadequate. The tips provided are meant to complement any efforts you can make to add insulation but also to substitute for it in the event that more insulation is not feasible for you. If you have a situation where poor insulation is a major factor in poor energy efficiency, other efforts can’t overcome this. However, such measures can offset some of the energy losses you will incur.