The average American household spends more than $2,000 a year on their energy bill, according to Energy Star, the Environmental Protection Agency's energy conservation program. Fifty to seventy percent of that is spent on heating and cooling. Investing in energy efficiency can create a more comfortable, consistent indoor climate and save you money in the long run. Here are seven home improvement tips that will keep your wallet fuller, summers cooler, and winters warmer.
Replace Air Filters & Clean the Vent
A clogged filter and dusty vents can make your central air system, air conditioner, or furnace work overtime, reducing efficiency, and costing you money. It’s generally recommended that you change the filter every one to three months. If you have allergies, or live with pets, replace the filter at least once a month to reduce the risk of mold and bacteria growing in your air system. Learn how to change a home air filter and clean the vents.
Insulation traps heat in the house during winter while preventing heat from entering in the summer. In most homes, it’s used in the attic, crawl spaces, and any floor above an unfinished basement, but can also be applied to water heaters, hot water pipes, and vent ducts. In older homes, the exterior walls may also be insulated. Check your home’s insulation to see if it’s damaged or if you have the recommended amount for where you live. To learn more about insulation types and installation, visit Home Depot, Lowes, or your local home improvement store.
Air-seal Your Home
Gaps and cracks in your home make money leak from your wallet. Be sure to seal all areas where air can enter or escape so it’s easier for your central air system, air conditioner, or furnace to regulate the temperature. Feeling a draft coming from the door? Weather strip it. How about the window? You can weather strip that too. Any small-to-medium sized cracks can be sealed with caulk or foam. For large openings and surfaces, use materials like plywood, drywall, rigid foam, or housewraps. Visit House Energy to learn how to air-seal your home and what to use.
Install Window Treatment
Curtains, blinds, shades, shutters…window treatments add style to any room, give you privacy, and save energy. They’ll allow you to easily block unwanted light and cold air or let light and heat inside. Read more about choosing the right window treatment for your space.
Get a Programmable Thermostat
Why waste money on heating or cooling the house while you’re at work? If you keep a predictable schedule, you can program the thermostat to conserve energy while you’re away. Some thermostats have mobile apps that can sense when you are home and will adjust the temperature accordingly. Find the best programmable thermostats on Amazon.
Plant Shade Trees
Deciduous trees are leafy in the summer before they lose their leaves in the fall. They make a beautiful addition to the landscape while controlling the amount of direct sunlight that hits your house. Planting a red maple on the eastern and western sides of your house will reduce the amount of light, cooling the house when the trees are full. As the leaves drop in autumn, more light comes through, making it warmer inside.
Install Ceiling Fans
On average, it costs $0.36 per hour to run the air conditioner while it costs only one cent per hour to run a ceiling fan. You’ll still need to run the AC in the summer, but you can increase the temperature by four degrees without losing any comfort if you have ceiling fans in the main rooms. Ceiling fans don’t lower the temperature, but they do create wind—a cooling effect—and lower the humidity.
PA Energy Efficiency Incentives
While some energy-saving initiatives require little financial investment, others like insulation or changes to your heating/cooling system, can be costly. Pennsylvania offers several financial incentives to homeowners who wish to save money and energy. Before taking on a project, check if you’re eligible for any programs.