A typical US family spends about $2000 per year on utility bills, and according to the US Department of Energy, much of that energy is wasted. Small changes can cut your energy use and lower your expenses in the process. But who wants to do the work?
Maximize your energy benefits, with minimum work
Here are three things you can do to weatherize. There are lots more, but these give you huge benefit for the least amount of work, and money.
- Insulation. It may not be the most glamorous home project, but one of the best energy savers for the buck is insulation. Did you know that 80% of US homes built before 1980 are lacking in insulation? Upgrading insulation by about 50% can result in a 12-18% reduction in energy use and it will help you stay warm throughout the house. How do you know what kind of insulation you need? Insulation pros will measure your attic, wall, crawl space and floor insulation to determine whether you have the right amount (Yes, you can actually have too much.). The government has created specific code levels and you’ll need to meet those in order to take advantage of utility rebates and tax credits available. Is it a lot of work? It doesn’t take long, but it can require finesse. Thinking of unrolling the fiberglass yourself? Make sure you know how much to buy, what tools you’ll need and how to properly install it without stepping through your ceiling. Incorrect installation or over insulation can actually limit your home’s air flow and cause serious problems. Please review important safety tips like these from the DIY television network http://www.diynetwork.com/how-to/how-to-install-fiberglass-insulation/index.html. Right now, PSE customers can get up to $1400 in rebates on insulation, making it even less expensive to get it installed the easy way, by a professional.
- Windows, doors and sealing. Okay, you’ve thought about it, but getting on a ladder to seal around the windows and doors is just not high on the priority list. A little caulk and a ladder – or maybe a call to a handyman. According to the DIY or Not website, Seattle homeowners can caulk six normal sized windows for about $60 (caulking gun and cartridges) or pay just $154 to hire a handyman. So much for the ladder! Now, if you have leaky single-paned aluminum frame windows or you have a big drafty gap on that old basement door, caulking is not going to be enough. New windows or doors are more expensive, but provide many benefits including greater comfort, even distribution of heat, higher resale value, plus energy efficiency. Some new window technologies are super green. For example, our newest vinyl window technology (SignatureMax) has the thermal protection of a triple paned low E window at the weight and light transmission of double paned. With its U Value of .21 you’ll be able to save on your heating bills and pick up utility rebates and tax credits.
- Prepare your heating equipment for use. Manufacturers recommend annual maintenance and it’s not just for the benefit of the contractor who sold you the furnace or heat pump! Your heating system will run more efficiently and burn less gas or electricity if properly “tuned up”. Change to a clean filter before heating season starts. Everyone is trying to save these days, so why let your expensive furnace degrade when good maintenance can sustain it. With utility costs rising, it might pay to have your furnace evaluated when it gets to the 12-15 year mark. Furnaces typically last up to 15 years. If it is not running efficiently and/or you choose to upgrade to a new energy efficient model, you could save 15% -30% on your heating costs. Excellent incentives are available and a federal tax credit is still available until this December.
Washington Energy can help you improve your home energy efficiency, from insulation to windows; doors and furnaces or even furnace maintenance. To find out more, visit www.washingtonenergy.com.