Whether or not we agree on the climate-change phenomenon, we can all agree that an energy-efficient home is a better home – better for the environment and better for our wallets. And if you’re a new home owner, one of the first things you should do is to set about making the house more energy efficient. Even if your house is new construction, there’s still quite a bit you can do to that end. So here are 5 ways to make your new house more energy efficient.
1. Perform an Energy Audit
Before doing anything else, your first step should be to perform an energy audit. You can’t make your new house more energy efficient, both effectively and cost-effectively, unless you know what needs attention.
An energy audit will help you determine where you’re wasting energy and whether you need to replace appliances, install a new HVAC system, or just add more insulation to the attic. You can hire a professional contractor to assess where the heating and cooling systems are costing you, as well as analyzing how well the systems are or are not working well together. The contractor will compare these assessments against your utility bill to see what level of energy efficiency exists.
The contractor will use a variety of tools to conduct the analysis, including surface thermometers, blowers, and infrared cameras, in order to find things a visual inspection would miss. At the end, you’ll receive a list of recommendations for things you can do to improve energy efficiency – as well as safety and comfort.
2. Check the Ducts
Even a newly built house probably has insufficient insulation on the ducts that carry heated or cooled air throughout your home. These ducts typically run through the attic and/or under floors, both very hot and cold areas, so you need to check them for insulation.
Remember, contractors cut corners anywhere they can to increase profits. So while your home’s ducts are insulated, it’s just the minimum to meet local code requirements. To make your new house more energy efficient, you will, in most cases, need to better insulate the ductwork.
3. Seal Your Attic
An adequately sealed and insulated attic is probably the most important single thing to ensure an energy-efficient house. It’s also the least expensive and so is, by far, the most cost-effective. Finding and sealing all the air leaks in your attic will take some time and some effort, but it’s worth it. The attic is the area where a house loses the most energy.
Some of the worst energy-loss culprits are holes cut in the ceiling for light fixtures and bathroom vent fans. So begin your efforts by sealing off these energy-loss spots. It’s often a good idea to hire a professional for a thorough job. (Contact your local agent at 866-593-7012 to discover more.)
4. Seal the Small Stuff
This is something many people overlook when trying to make their house more energy efficient. Still, you can lose a lot of energy through the small things like light switches and electrical outlets and around water and drain lines.
An easy fix is simply to remove switch and outlet plates and just stuff more insulation around the boxes. Even better is to also go into the attic and seal around electrical conduit and pipes coming through the top plate. This will stop most of the cold/hot air sneaking into your home around these small things.
5. Install Energy-Efficient Appliances
Large appliances – refrigerators, stoves, washers, dryers, dishwashers, and so on – can be the worst energy wasters in your home. So you should also look into replacing existing appliances with new energy-efficient models.
This may seem like a huge expense, but consider the following. A new energy-efficient refrigerator can save you up to $70 per year, which works out to $1,050 over the 15-year lifespan of the appliance. Multiply that by four or five for the other appliances and you’re looking at substantial energy and money savings.
There are also a couple of things you can do to make your new house more energy efficient that won’t cost a single dime. Since up to 85% of the energy used in washing clothes goes to heating water, just turn your washer down from “Hot” to “Warm.” (Your clothes will still get clean.) You can also avoid placing your stove next to your refrigerator because they are competing appliances temperature-wise.
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