Home energy efficiency is a good thing to take a look at, no matter what season it is.
In the summer, cooling can be quite expensive, especially if you have a leaky home in a hot and humid climate. Just to feel comfortable may require running air conditioners 24/7 some weeks. In the winter, the effect is the opposite, and extreme climate changes can make it particularly expensive to keep your home comfortable when the temperature drops. Why does a leaky home cost you money? Is there anything you can do about it?
First, the problem with a leaky home is not necessarily air leaks, though these are a significant player. Even if no air is seeping out, cold or hot depending on the season, heat can be leaking in or out due to poor insulation. One study in New Zealand, for example, determined that the insulation in every one of fifty-eight homes surveyed were not properly insulated, either due to design or installation. This really throws off your home energy efficiency, and it requires more energy to heat or cool the home than is necessary, wasting money and generating greenhouse gas emissions for no reason.
As a home owner, there is a lot you can do to improve the energy efficiency of an existing home, from adding insulation to pipes, plugging and sealing drafts, and adding underfloor insulation to the basement, to full wall insulation, thermal windows and doors replacement. Some of these, the DIY ones in particular, can pay you back in as little as three years, while others may never pay you back. Still, the immediate benefits of a smaller carbon footprint and smaller utility bill will be immediately noticeable.
On the other hand, if you are a renter, is there anything you can do about the energy efficiency of your rented home or apartment? These five DIY fixes that might cost you less than $50 at the hardware store will pay you back almost immediately, and typically won’t annoy your landlord.
• Seal up cracks in the walls or spaces between boards countertops and floors with caulk. Use silicone caulking in the bathroom and kitchen.
• Add foam strips and a sweep to exterior doors. Self-adhesive foam strips are available in different thicknesses for different size gaps and need almost zero experience to install.
• Use expanding foam insulation to seal anywhere pipes enter the home or apartment (only don’t spray it on your hand, because it’s a pain to clean).
• Seal up an unused chimney with plastic sheeting and tape. The same goes for covering up drafty or single-pane glass windows.
• Seal up the cracks in old wood floors with wood putty or color-coded caulking to keep air from seeping through.
I know it’s July, hot in the Northern Hemisphere, but do you really want to be doing this when it gets cold?
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