Energy Saving Upgrades for Your Older Home
Check out Southern California Gas Company to find energy saving upgrades rebates on qualifying energy-efficient appliances or upgrades for your home.
If you live in an older Studio City or Sherman Oaks home, chances are that you don’t have a lot of energy saving features. You may have and old and inefficient heating system, poor insulation, and energy draining windows and doors. The good news is that there is probably a lot of “low hanging fruit,” easy and inexpensive projects that you can do yourself to save money and improve the comfort of your home.
Windows and Doors
Does your home have single paned windows? Can you feel drafts around your windows when it’s windy outside? If so, you need to give your windows some attention. Apply weather stripping to your windows so that they have a better seal on them. When the wind is blowing, single paned windows have almost no insulation capability, so you need to isolate the windows from the air in your home. Window coverings, particularly ones designed to provide some level of insulation, can help mitigate the poor insulating ability of your windows. You can also cover your windows with plastic during the winter to help reduce drafts. Most home improvement centers sell various window covering products that can help you save. Xcel Energy, one of the largest utilities in the country, estimates that you could save up to $40 per heating season in cold climates.
Inspect your exterior doors for drafts. If you discover a significant amount of air moving into your home, apply weather stripping to stop the inflow of outside air. When replacing doors, look for a replacement that is energy star certified.
Take a look up in your attic. How many inches of insulation do you have installed? What type of insulation is? A poorly insulated attic can be a significant drain on your home’s warm air during the winter. The result is you need a larger furnace that runs more frequently, costing you money. If you’re a do it yourself type, you can probably save a significant amount of money on your heating and cooling bills by increasing the insulating capability of your attic to at least R40. The R value of insulation is a measure of the thermal resistance of the insulation, the higher the number, the better the insulation. Insulating materials usually are rated by R value per inch thickness of material. Once you’ve determined what type of insulation you have in your home, you can measure your attic’s current R value by simply finding the average thickness of the insulation and multiply by the rated R value of your insulation.
Drafts and leaks
Drafts and leaks around windows and doors are often easy to detect and correct, but they generally aren’t the biggest source of air entering your home. Check the exterior walls of you home for cracks and gaps that are not plugged. Pipes and wire conduits should be caulked to prevent air leaking in around them. Make sure that your fireplace’s damper is closed when the fireplace is not in use. Before you seal things up too tightly, you may want to have your radon levels measured. Once you plug leaks and seal your home more effectively, you may need to install a radon mitigation system.
Ducts and the Furnace
Uninsulated and leaky ducts can dramatically reduce the efficiency of your heating and cooling system. Sealing leaks and applying insulation to exposed duct work, particularly when located in unheated crawlspaces and basements, should be a big part of any upgrades that you perform to your heating and cooling system. Before you insulate exposed ductwork, make sure that you inspect the duct work for gaps and leaks. Seal these with duct mastic, a product you can find at your local home center. Don’t use standard duct tape.
You can buy duct insulation at your local home center. It usually comes in packages that cover 5 feet of duct and is usually rated between R-6 and R-8. Buy the highest R value product that you can find. Each 5 ft. segment will cost about $5-$10 to insulate.
If you have an old furnace, consider replacing it with a new, high efficiency model. If you can afford a new furnace at the moment, make sure your existing one is properly maintained. This will ensure that it is running as efficiently as possible. During the heating season, change the furnace filter a regular intervals to ensure proper airflow through the furnace. Have your ducts cleaned every couple of years to improve air flow and air quality.
Replace the light bulbs in your home with compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs). These use a quarter of the energy of incandescent bulbs. They also last considerably longer. They do cost more than incandescents, but you’ll save money over the life of the bulb. CFLs can also improve the comfort of your home because they don’t put out nearly as much heat as older bulbs.
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