The cost of energy in our homes is a significant impact on the monthly household budget and it is unlikely to change for the better as costs from energy providers show no signs of levelling off or decreasing any time soon. Consider these energy reduction strategies that may reduce the energy consumption in your household and help to stabilize your monthly utility bills.
Approximately 40 % of home energy costs are consumed by heating and cooling the living spaces in the home which would then suggest that ensuring your attic is adequately insulated would help to reduce energy consumption. Most new homes are insulated with R values up to R-40 and R-50. This may not be the case in older homes where insulation may be marginal. Adding insulation to the attic space (usually blown in cellulose or fiberglass) can provide marked improvement in the comfort level in the home living spaces. Even a few inches of added insulation can fill gaps in the insulation that may contribute to air losses from the living space. Caution – Do not block the existing ventilation spaces that are necessary to permit the proper flow of air in the attic.
Create an air barrier by sealing gaps and penetrations in the attic space (ceiling electrical fixtures, exhaust fans, wiring and duct penetrations) with plastic to prevent heated or cooled house air from escaping the building envelope. Insulate the attic hatch with a layer or two of rigid foam board insulation and add compressible weather stripping to complete the seal. Adding latches to the hatch can also help ensure a tight air seal.
Reduce potential air loss in your home by sealing drafts around windows and doors with caulking, ensure all exterior vent closures and wall penetrations are well sealed. Worn out door seals and sweeps should be replaced.
Insulate electrical outlets and sockets using foam insulation gaskets designed to fit inside the covers. This can be especially helpful to stop drafts in older homes in which walls are not well insulated.
Change your furnace filter at appropriate intervals, clean ductwork and have the furnace inspected annually. A well maintained appliance will operate more efficiently and as an added bonus the operating life of the system is likely to be extended.
Programmable thermostats may not achieve the large savings first thought but there may still be benefit gained from not heating or cooling empty spaces when you are not at home or asleep. Program the thermosat to a setback of perhaps 10 degrees when heating or cooling is not required. Note: A greater impact is likely in regions which experience a larger range of seasonal temperature variations between indoor and outdoor temperatures.
Tankless Water Heaters – Other than space heating more energy is used to heat water in the home than almost any other household activity. In the majority of Canadian homes storage tanks are commonly used. The water in the tank is continuously heated to maintain the temperature whether it is required or not. Tankless water heaters (“on demand” or “instantaneous water heaters”) use high inputs of gas or electricity to instantly heat the water rather than storing hot water in a traditional hot water heating sytem. Because the hot water is not heated when it is not needed High Efficiency tankless systems can reduce the amount of energy used to provide hot water to the home. Consult with a certified installer to ensure all the required parameters (sizing of the system) are understood prior to deciding to install a tankless system.
Window replacement can be the most expensive of any of the energy saving options suggested. The overall cost and payback period should be carefully reviewed as part of the process of a window replacement program. Aesthetics and long term maintenance are also major factors that play into the decision process.