Have you ever wondered what else you could do to save money on your energy bill? You’ve already switched out your old bulbs for LEDs, you’ve upgraded to ENERGY STAR appliances, and you’ve even exhibited self-control when it comes to turning down the AC.
Yet your savings aren’t quite up to par.
Well, we have the answer to your problem and it all revolves around one thing: insulation. By sealing up air leaks and adding insulation you can save up to 15 percent on your annual energy bills, according to ENERGY STAR.
There are both small and big steps you can take to improve your home’s insulation, but first let’s understand what insulation actually is. That way you’ll understand the why behind the tips we’ll later provide.
The basics on how insulation works.
To understand insulation and how it works, you first need to understand the flow of heat, which involves conduction, convection, and radiation. Conduction is when heat is transferred between objects touching, convection refers to heat transfer by movement of a medium, and radiation simply refers to thermal radiation.
Insulation materials typically work by slowing down conductive and convective heat flow. Heat typically flows from warmer to cooler temperatures until there’s no longer a difference. So during winter, the warm air that keeps you cozy will escape your home if you have faulty insulation. During summer, as cool air flows out, warm air will creep in.
Proper insulation helps decrease heat flow. This means the cool air that you’re paying for stays inside. Luckily there are DIY tips that can greatly improve the your home insulation’s efficiency.
How you can begin improving your home’s insulation – while also lowering your bill.
There are various types of insulation materials, each with their own R-value (which is the maximum thermal performance). Some forms of insulation – such as batts and blankets – can be used for personal DIY projects. Other types of insulation – such as loose fill or spray foam – require a professional.
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Your first step should be to conduct a home energy audit. This will help you find out where your home is vulnerable to energy waste. Air leaks around the windows and doors, along with weak insulation in the attic can be spotted with the help of a home energy audit. For more information, check out our article, “Conducting a home energy audit.” You’ll find some DIY tips to help you get started on that audit.
To enhance your home’s insulation on your own, you need to focus on four areas:
- Hot Water Tank
If your home has an attic, you’ll want to make sure that it is sealed tight with proper insulation. A well-insulated home helps maintain your desired temperature throughout your house. For this type of project, you can either hire a contractor or you can tackle it yourself. To find out further steps you’ll need to take, including which materials you’ll need, head over to ENERGY STAR’s Attic Insulation Project guide.
While you’re in the attic, take look at its ductwork. Your air travels through your ducts, so it is important to make sure no air is leaking. Faulty insulation around the ductwork means that you’re paying extra, just to stay cool or warm.
To find out if your ductwork is faulty, turn on your HVAC system and run your hands along the duct work (if possible). This will help you spot any possible air leaks – allowing you to make necessary changes.
If your home’s duct work is inaccessible, then your best bet is to hire a professional. Faulty ductwork can account for up to 30 percent of air being lost, according to ENERGY STAR.
Another quick way to improve your home’s insulation is to buy an insulation blanket and wrap it around your home’s hot water tank. By doing so, you can save anywhere between 7 to 16 percent annually on your water heating bill, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. That’s an easy quick fix, that can lead to plentiful savings.
Finally, your windows need to be properly installed and sealed, so that air doesn’t seep out. Caulking and weather stripping can help you seal up cracks around your windows. For further information on the type of caulking you should use, check out the article we mentioned earlier, “Conducting a home energy audit.”
Insulation has a major influence on your energy bill. So rather than letting it inflate your tab, fix it and watch your savings grow.