How To Improve Your Home’s Energy Efficiency

Making your Valparaiso, Indiana, home more efficient can lower your utility bills and increase its value. Investing in some upgrades now could help you save money later. Here are some ways to improve your house's energy efficiency.

Turn Down Your Water Heater

Most water heaters heat water to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, but 120 degrees Fahrenheit is comfortable for most people. Along with saving energy, it reduces the risk of burns. If you go on vacation for more than a few weeks, you can save even more power by shutting your water heater off completely. Some water heaters have a vacation mode that heats water to around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. That way, you won't have to wait too long for hot water when you return from your vacation and reactivate your water heater.

Maintain Your HVAC System

You should change your heater and air conditioner's air filter every few months. A clogged filter can force your HVAC system to work harder, wasting energy and increasing wear. It can also reduce your indoor air quality and make your home less comfortable.
Check your HVAC system's outdoor unit for leaves, twigs, grass clippings, and other debris. If needed, you can rinse it off with a garden hose. Trim any hedges or other plants near the unit to provide better airflow. To discover any issues that could impact your unit's efficiency as soon as possible and have them repaired, get your heating and air conditioning system checked by a professional at least once per year. If you notice a sudden increase in our energy bills, bad smells, or strange noises, have your HVAC system checked as soon as possible.

Install a Smart or Programmable Thermostat

You can set a programmable thermostat to turn down your HVAC system when you're usually at work or asleep. Then, it can return your home to a more comfortable temperature when you come home or wake up. You can add additional schedules for holidays and weekends, and a programmable thermostat can quickly pay for itself through energy savings. 

With a smart thermostat, you can make changes from anywhere with your smartphone. A smart thermostat can learn your routine by communicating with motion sensors or cameras. You won't have to program as much information, and you can save even more power than you would with a programmable thermostat. You can also avoid making yourself or your family members less comfortable. Many models have motion sensors, and they can learn your routine and make temperature adjustments automatically over time. Many smart or programmable thermostats can remind you to change your air filter and maintain your HVAC system as well.

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Image via Flickr by Smart Home Perfected

Schedule a Blower Door Test

If you notice drafts or one area of your home is often too hot or cold, you may need a blower door test. Energy Diagnostics can perform these tests. Schedule your consultation today! These tests help you detect leaks so that you can repair them and save energy. Getting rid of leaks also keeps pests and moisture from entering your home.

A professional energy auditor will mount a large fan to one of your exterior doors, pulling air from your home and creating a pressure difference between the interior and the exterior. Then, the auditor uses a digital air pressure gauge or manometer to measure the pressure difference. They use other instruments to find the locations of air leaks. Most blower door tests take about an hour, and the auditor will need access to every part of your home, including closets, attics, basements, and crawl spaces.

After the test, you'll get a report with your ACH or air changes per hour. This is the amount of time every hour that the air in your home is completely replaced during the blower door test. New homes usually have an ACH of 4 or less, and older homes have one around 5. A home with an ACH more than 6 usually has some leaks that need repairing.

Upgrade Your Doors and Windows

Installing weatherstripping around doors and additional caulk around windows can help you keep drafts out. If your home has older exterior doors, consider adding storm doors for additional insulation and a more attractive exterior. You can also use window putty around loose windowpanes to seal gaps. In winter, open blinds and curtains to let more sunlight in and warm your home. In summer, keep them closed during the hottest parts of the day. White blinds and curtains can help reflect sunlight and keep you cooler.

You can also install energy-efficient windows. Glass panes with low-emissivity or low-e coatings reduce heat transfer for better efficiency and block ultraviolet light. You can also choose windows with two or three layers of glass. The spaces between the panes are filled with inert, nontoxic krypton or argon gas for more insulation. These upgrades can eventually pay for themselves through energy savings.

Check Your Insulation

The insulation in your attic, your basement, and inside your walls can deteriorate over time. Some types of insulation become more compact and less effective over time. It can also have mold, mildew, or pests. Get an insulation inspection from an expert to find all the places where you need additional insulation and get a recommendation on the best type to use. You could improve your house's energy efficiency by up to 30%. It's also a good idea to seal smaller gaps around electrical outlets and light switches with caulk.

Add Ceiling Fans

Ceiling fans let you use your air conditioner less while staying cool in summer. In winter, you can reverse the directions of many types of fans. That way, they can blow cool air near the floor towards the ceiling and force warmer air towards the floor. This makes rooms feel warmer so that you can use your heating system less.
To learn more about making your home more efficient and lowering your expenses, contact us at Energy Diagnostics, Inc. Whether you have a new or existing home, we can help you find ways to save energy and increase its resale value.