Even if you plan to build a new house on new land, the space you are living in right now may be costing you more money than it needs to. Taking the time to complete even a few of the following steps can save you money and make your house more marketable if and when you decide to sell it. Not to mention that you will be helping to preserve the vital resources of this planet and lowering your carbon footprint at the same time.
Some of these items below can be accomplished for FREE. Look for the * to see which ones.
1. Install low-flow shower heads and fix leaky faucets and toilets.
2. Use expansion foam to seal all electrical boxes on the exterior walls.
a. Remove the plug cover to expose the box.
b. Use the wand to spray expansion foam into the openings at the back of the box. One small squirt in each opening is all it takes.
3. Wash clothes in cold water with cold water detergents.*
4. Install a timer switch on bathroom fans. This allows you to leave the fan on after a shower long enough to clear the moisture without you having to worry about turning it off. It automatically shuts off after a pre-determined length of time.
5. Run major appliances late in the evening or early in the morning to avoid using power from a taxed power grid. You can help lessen electric loads during these times.*
6. Wash the coils of your refrigerator annually. Be sure to unplug it first. If you have pets or live in a dusty area, clean the coils more often, as needed.*
7. Wash the coils and screen on your heat pump air conditioner unit annually and whenever you notice they are dirty. Grass clipping, spider webs and dust can build up quite a film quickly.*
8. Replace incandescent light bulbs with energy efficient compact florescent bulbs, or better yet, with LED lights.
9. Install timers or motion detectors on lights where applicable.
10. Use door jamb light switches for closets. Installed in the jam of the door, this light will only turn on when the door is open. Perfect for closets where a light could be left on long after the door was closed.
11. Seal leaks in ductwork.
a. Pull insulation back from the joints of the ductwork to expose all pipe connections.
b. Use duct sealing caulk on all joints.
c. After caulk has dried, apply duct tape (the real stuff, not the household version) to all joints.
d. Replace the insulation and tape the joints of the insulation with duct tape.
12. Add air-sealing gaskets to all switch and plug outlet cover plates.
13. Install adequate weather stripping on all doors and windows.
a. Have someone stand out-side the house with a bright light shining on the door.
b. Another person stands inside in the pitch dark.
c. See how many air leaks you have by looking for the light at the edges of the door.
d. Weather-stripping is easily installed to correct this problem. If the problem continues, the door itself may need to be adjusted to hang properly.
14. Seal all penetrations in exterior walls. This includes pipes, ductwork, and other penetrations.
a. Look at all penetrations in exterior walls.
b. Remove pipe collars around plumbing and spray expansion foam into the open space around the pipe within the wall.
c. Once the foam has dried cut it flush with the wall.
d. Caulk any remaining gaps between the pipe and the wall and replace the collar.
15. Plant deciduous shade trees around the house to provide natural cooling.
16. Open windows at night and close them in the morning during hot months if your climate provides cool evenings. You can use your air conditioner if the house gets too hot, but take advantage of the free cooling for the overnight and early morning hours. Who knows, that cool might just last all day!*
17. Use a programmable thermostat.
a. In the summer, as mentioned above, turn the AC off overnight and open the windows. You can program the AC to come on at whatever time you generally notice the house warming up, say 4pm.
b. In the winter, lower the temperature overnight. Cool temperatures help most people sleep. In the early morning, say an hour before you get up, program the heat to raise back up to your favorite setting. And don’t forget to wear your sweaters when you can!
c. One exception to this rule is people who have radiant floor heating. With this system, a temperature should be chosen and the thermostat left alone. The more you change the temperature on your radiant system, the less efficient it is.
18. Buy furnace filters at least twelve at a time. Label them for each month and keep them in a box near the furnace (away from any air intake). Mark your calendar for a monthly replacement of the filter. Most filters are replaced once per year at best. Your system will be much more efficient if you replace filters monthly or as recommended by the furnace manufacturer.
19. Insulate your hot water heater tank and the hot water pipes that you have access to.
20. Install a storm door with a spring closing mechanism on all exterior doors.