How to Reduce Your Home Energy Costs With Simple DIY Projects
With energy costs continuing to rise, many homeowners are looking for ways to reduce their monthly utility bills. The good news is that there are lots of simple DIY projects you can do to make your home more energy efficient. Here are some of the best ways I can reduce my home energy costs with DIY improvements.
Seal Air Leaks
One of the easiest ways to reduce heating and cooling costs is to seal air leaks around my home. According to the Department of Energy, air leaks can account for up to 30% of heating and cooling costs. Here are some simple projects I can do to seal air leaks:
Caulk and Weatherstrip
- I can walk around the interior and exterior of my home and apply caulk and weatherstripping anywhere there are gaps or cracks. Key areas to check include around windows and door frames, electrical outlets, attic hatches, cables/pipes entering the house, and unfinished spaces. Caulk and weatherstrip materials are inexpensive and easy for a DIYer to use.
Insulate Attic Hatches
- Attic hatches or pull-down stairs are often a major source of air leakage. Adding insulation and weatherstripping around the attic hatch is an easy way to seal this gap. I can install foam board insulation on the back of the hatch and then trim it with wood. Weatherstrip around the edges to create a tight seal.
Install Door Sweeps
- Gaps under exterior doors allow air to pass through. Installing door sweeps or thresholds is an easy solution. Sweeps made of vinyl, brush, or felt attach to the bottom of the door and seal the gap between the door and threshold or floor.
Adding insulation to my attic, walls, crawlspaces, and basements is one of the most cost-effective energy efficiency projects I can do. According to the Department of Energy, I can reduce my heating and cooling costs by up to 20% by properly insulating my home.
- The attic is often the first place to increase insulation. I can add batt or blown-in insulation above any existing insulation after assessing the current R-value. Properly insulating the attic to an R-value of R-38 or higher can make a big difference.
- Insulating exterior walls can be more challenging but is worthwhile. Options include blown-in insulation through holes drilled in walls, rigid foam boards attached to wall studs, or spray foam insulation. Any of these can substantially reduce heat loss through walls.
Basement or Crawlspace Insulation
- Insulating basement walls or crawlspace surfaces inhibits heat transfer to cooler ground. Options include spray foam, rigid insulation boards, or batt insulation with an air sealing vapor barrier. This will make basements more comfortable and reduce energy costs.
Upgrade HVAC Equipment
Replacing heating and cooling equipment with newer, more efficient systems can have a big payoff in terms of lower energy bills.
- A new ENERGY STAR certified high-efficiency gas furnace can reduce my heating costs by 30% or more compared to an old unit. Look for modern furnaces with AFUE ratings of 90% or higher.
Upgrade Air Conditioner
- Similarly, replacing an old air conditioner with a new ENERGY STAR certified high-efficiency unit can reduce cooling costs by 20% or more. Look for SEER ratings of 14 or higher. Consider central air source heat pumps to provide both heating and cooling.
- Leaky ductwork can waste a lot of energy. Sealing and insulating ducts prevents cooled or heated air from being lost before reaching rooms. Insulate ducts in unconditioned spaces to R-8 or higher.
Install Smart Thermostats
Programmable thermostats can save energy and money by regulating temperatures when occupants are away or asleep. Smart thermostats take this a step further by optimizing heating and cooling usage over time.
Smart thermostats like Nest, Ecobee, and Honeywell learn household schedules and preferences. They have sensors to detect occupancy and temperature changes, allowing them to automatically adapt to save energy.
Features like geofencing, scheduling, and integration with other smart devices allow smart thermostats to optimize heating and cooling operation for both comfort and efficiency.
Replacing old appliances like refrigerators, washing machines, and dishwashers with newer ENERGY STAR models can help reduce utility costs. Key benefits:
ENERGY STAR certified appliances are up to 30% more energy efficient on average than standard models. This saves on electricity.
ENERGY STAR refrigerators, for example, use better insulation, compressors, heat exchangers, gaskets, doors, etc to reduce electricity consumption while maintaining interior temperatures.
Washing machines and dishwashers with ENERGY STAR ratings use less water and energy for cleaning cycles through recirculation pumps, sensors, and improved motors.
Buying the most efficient size appliance for my needs will maximize energy savings. Avoid oversized refrigerators or washers that use more electricity.
Disposing of a second refrigerator or freezer in a garage or basement if no longer needed can also cut costs.
Replacing incandescent light bulbs with LEDs can reduce lighting electricity use by 75% or more. LED bulbs also last years longer than traditional bulbs.
Switch indoor and outdoor lights to LEDs. Choose ENERGY STAR certified LED bulbs that match the color temperature and brightness of the bulbs being replaced.
Consider LED retrofit kits to convert recessed can lights or fluorescent tubes to LED. Kits replace just the bulb portion to simplify upgrades.
Install LED nightlights in hallways, bathrooms, and other areas to provide soft illumination at night while using barely any energy.
Use automatic timers or photocells for exterior lighting to turn lights on only when needed at night.
These DIY projects require minimal investment and effort but can add up to major energy and cost savings. Being proactive about sealing air leaks, adding insulation, and upgrading outdated appliances and lighting provides a great return through lower utility bills. I can reduce my home energy costs significantly over time with simple weekend projects.