As the weather changes and the temperature begins to fall, the importance of home insulation and energy efficiency becomes top-of-mind for many American homeowners. The CIMA website tends to be a harbinger of consumer interest this time of year as the number of visitors increase. That’s probably how you arrived at this blog post. So CIMA is happy to provide some advice on how best to use cellulose insulation along with other tips for making practical energy-efficient improvements to a home.
1. Add or Upgrade Insulation with highly efficient and Eco-friendly cellulose insulation.
It’s one of the best ways to save money, help the environment and improve your living conditions. Recovery of the investment for insulation is quick and it can even boost resale value. There are also tax credits and other incentives available.
2. Do the Prep and pay a bit more for Professional Installation.
Make the necessary preparations to ensure the highest energy efficiency before installing insulation.
Taking the proper steps to prepare your attic before installing insulation will result in the highest efficiency. Learn more in this guide to preparing a home for insulation. CIMA also recommends using a professional insulation contractor trained in the proper techniques of cellulose installation to achieve the maximum performance.
3. Be a Draft Dodger.
The DOE estimates drafts can waste up to 30% of energy use in a home. Replace worn or damaged weather stripping around doors. Also use Draft Dodgers between the bottom of exterior doors and threshold. You can fashion your own or buy them from home improvement stores.
4. Save Cash With Caulk.
You may recall the “Cash For Caulkers” bill. Caulking around windows, doors, chimneys and other transition areas costs a few dollars but returns big savings. A professional energy audit with a blower door test is the best way to identify air leaks. An easy method around windows is to have someone use a blow dryer on the outside while someone holds a candle inside. If the flame flickers or blows out its time to caulk.
5. Blow up the air.
Your ceiling fans have a switch on the side of the motor that moves up and down. In winter, change this switch to blow the air up instead of down. Heat rises and this will help push warm air down to make rooms with ceiling fans feel warmer. Keep in mind though that fans cost money to run and only add value when there are people below. So keep the fans off unless someone is in the room.
6. Turn your ducts into seals.
Another area where energy loss is common in homes is the air ducts. The DOE estimates that 10 – 30% of conditioned air can be lost from poorly sealed HVAC duct work. It’s best to hire a professional to test the system to determine need and make the improvements. Then investment can save money over the long run in both cool and hot weather. This is not to be confused with “duct cleaning” which in most cases is not necessary unless there is a serious air quality issue in the home.
7. Go Digital To Take Control
Home heating and cooling can easily be 50% or more of the energy cost for a home. Controlling the thermostat can save money as each degree of temperature can save as much as 3% on energy bills. The best way to gain control is to upgrade with a digital/programmable thermostat. There are many models available from $50 or less. The DIY homeowner knowledgeable with electrical wiring can install these but for maximum safety and efficiency it’s best to hire a qualified electrician. Once installed, program to automatically lower the heat when the house is empty during the day and at night when everyone is toasty in bed under the blankets.
When preparing your home for winter weather there are many factors to consider. In addition to these seven tips there are more costly investments that may be necessary depending on conditions of a home. Modernizing windows can be a major project and investment but necessary if the windows are beyond improving with caulk and weatherstripping alone. Upgrading to newer appliances, such as an Energy Star rated water heater or furnace, typically require professional installation and are major investments. Your local utility company or electrical co-op may offer free or low-cost energy audits that can include evaluation and recommendations. If your appliances are too old it may make sense to invest in newer models.
To get started, the first test is really pretty simple. If you are cranking up the thermostat and still feeling cold in your house it’s a sure sign you need to make some improvements. The best bet is to take action now and invest in improvements before winter hits and your money goes out the attic, doors and windows in the form of wasted energy.