Surveys show that only about 15 percent of folks actually take steps to enhance the energy efficiency of their home. In most cases, people feel that energy efficiency improvements are too complicated or too expensive to tackle. However, there are several simple upgrades you can consider that won’t break your household budget.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that heating and air conditioning account for 22 percent of a typical home’s annual electric bill. While an air-source heat pump or a geothermal heat pump can be 20 percent to 45 percent more efficient than an existing central heating and cooling system, up-front installation costs are often a barrier.
Changing air filters at least every three months will increase airflow to rooms, increase the life of your central heating and cooling unit’s motor, and improve air quality. Sealing and insulating ductwork can be done in a weekend and result in energy savings of up to 20 percent. To lessen the amount of work that heating and cooling systems need to do, it’s important to find and fix air leaks. Install foam gaskets behind switchplates and electric outlet covers on exterior walls to plug air leaks.
Walk around your house on a cold day and feel for drafts around exterior doors and windows, electric outlets, and entrance points for TV and telephone cables. In basements, target dryer vents, natural gas lines, or any opening in the wall. To fix leaks, apply caulk, spray foam, or weather stripping. Simple acts such as cooking outdoors on a hot summer day and drawing curtains closed to block the summer sun will keep the interior of your home cooler and reduce the amount of time your air conditoning units need to operate.