When choosing to do a home energy assessment, we identify the causes of drafts and temperature differences or changes within the home. Considering energy efficiency practices for your home plays a part in making the home comfortable while conserving energy. Besides deciding to update certain systems, appliances, and devices within the home, this assessment should also include the evaluation of insulation and air sealing conditions that may need improvement or total replacement.

Standard Recommendations/Guidelines for Energy Efficiency

Wasted energy plays a major role in the problem of energy inefficiency and homeowners contribute to much of this waste by not knowing the basic rules for running household devices and appliances in a resourceful manner. To begin, it would be helpful to know the approximate amounts of electricity used by the common devices, systems, and appliances within our homes:

Air conditioning and heating: 40 – 45%

Water heating: 14%

Appliances: 13%

Lighting: 9 – 10%

TV and media equipment: 4 – 5%

Knowing this information, along with knowing the recommended guidelines for using equipment in the home will help homeowners do their part when it comes to conserving energy. For instance:

Air conditioning and heating: set thermostat at 78F in summer, 68F in winter

Water heater: set water temperature to 120F or lower

Appliances: keep refrigerators full but do not overload them; use ovens as little as possible during summer months

Lighting: replace incandescent light bulbs with LED light bulbs. LED light bulbs provide longevity (lasting years longer than incandescent light bulbs), consume considerably less energy, and also provide better quality lighting.

For TV, electronic, and media equipment, the recommendation is the same that is given for most operations within the home: turn it off when it’s not in use. For dealing with specifics when it comes to energy efficiency practices for your home, consider these tips.

Check Your Roof

Taking care of the roof of a home is one of the energy efficiency practices for your home that will need to be checked to reveal its condition. Upon checking the roof, is the conclusion that roof repair to one or more areas will be needed, or is it time for a total roof replacement? Whichever will be needed, decisions involving the choice of materials that are energy efficient, coatings, and ventilation provisions will have to be included. Contacting a roofing company would be an immense help in advising homeowners about what would be the best solutions.

A roofing company can explain that applying a cool roof coating instead of using standard paint can reduce temperatures in the home considerably because this type of coating keeps the roof from overheating. They can also advise that installing metal roofing is a tremendous energy saver because metal reflects light as opposed to absorbing it. Therefore, using cool roof coating along with metal roofing results in a cooler home and less running of the AC system. However, homeowners must learn whether their home can support metal roofing since it can be heavier than other materials. There are numerous options available and having discussions with professionals increases homeowners’ knowledge, allowing them to make informed decisions and choices.

Check Your Water Heater

It is important that homeowners recognize the signs that say it is time to repair or replace their water heater when it comes to energy efficiency practices for your home. A common problem that families find with hot water heaters is that the hot water runs out too quickly. Depending on what the issue is, the problem may be resolved simply, or it could require a more complicated, expensive resolution. Of course, much depends on several factors:

Is the heater tank or tankless? If it is a tank water heater, a solution might be to go tankless, which will cost considerably more. Gas or electric? All water heaters come to the end of their life expectancy, which could be anywhere between 6 – 12 years. If this is the case, a new heater will be needed, and homeowners must choose between gas or electric water heaters. Perhaps there is a problem because of a buildup of sediment which can be somewhat simple to resolve by flushing or draining the system. Or does a heating element need to be replaced, which is a more complicated issue?

As always, checking with water heater replacement companies to receive advice regarding specific situations is the way to make correct decisions.

Check Your HVAC System

It pays to choose wisely when it comes to HVAC repairs or purchases because it is the use of air conditioning and heating that utilizes most of the electric energy used in the home. We definitely want to consider the HVAC system when thinking of energy efficiency practices for your home. Homeowners have a choice of using a dual unit that combines both heating and AC in one system or choosing each unit separately. The decision to make is whether an HVAC repair will be needed or whether the HVAC system needs to be replaced. An HVAC repair may be the solution.

If a buildup of humidity is noticed in the home, usually noticeable in windows. Since HVAC systems are built to draw excess moisture from the air, if that is not happening, a recalibration of the system may be necessary. An unusual rise in utility bills is also a concern that the HVAC system is not working as efficiently as possible. The refrigerant needs to be replaced.

In the cases listed above, calling in an HVAC technician to check the system is required. However, if the homeowner experiences the following problems, then a new HVAC system may be needed:

An HVAC system lasts between 10 – 15 years and as it ages, parts will continue to deteriorate. Therefore, at some point between that 10 – 15-year expiration period, homeowners should decide whether it would be best to invest in a new HVAC system. If the unit is running longer (turning off and on more), either the compressor could be the problem, or the unit is not the sufficient size for the home, or it has deteriorated to a point where it’s no longer able to cool the home. Are there changes in the temperature within different rooms of the house? This could be attributed to either the insulation in the system being ineffective, or there could be problems in the air duct system, or the system being old and no longer operating properly.

Insulate Your Windows

Windows are important when it comes to energy efficiency practices for your home. Over time, windows sustain damage due to wear and tear and allow drafts to creep into the home. Drafts counteract any AC/heating provisions that may be in the home. There is also the problem of water seeping into the home and causing further damage. Window installation will likely become necessary if you notice any of the following:

Drafts cause hot, humid air to enter the home during the summer, and cold air to enter in the winter. In both cases, drafts neutralize the heat and cold air generated by the AC/heating unit. This will obviously cause an increase in the electricity bill because the unit must work harder to keep the home at a comfortable temperature. Condensation on the inside of windows means the air-tight sealant has been compromised and is not working any longer. Outside noise can become deafening and extremely intrusive. Double- and triple-pane windows are some of the energy efficiency practices for your home that leave the outside world outside where it belongs. When the homeowner can see damage to the window, such as cracked or broken glass, to avoid problems such as water seepage, pests entering the home, and the development of mold and mildew, the windows should be replaced as soon as possible.

However, insulating windows is a less costly way to resolve the problem with windows. The good thing is that window insulation is a job that the homeowner can do on his/her own using relatively inexpensive products purchased from a home improvement store. Some of these home insulation products are as follows:

After scraping off the old caulking, apply the new caulking as smoothly and evenly as possible. Let it dry to set properly. Draft stoppers can either be purchased at the local home improvement store or the homeowner can make them. Made of thick fabric or cloth that is shaped into a tube-like form, it is filled with sand, rice, or beans and placed around the bottom of windows (and doors too), acting as an air sealant. Hanging thermal curtains that cover the entire window is another DIY way to insulate windows. These curtains work well for summer or winter by keeping cold and heat out of the home.

Insulate Your Floors

We all know what it feels like when walking barefoot on cold floors, especially during the winter! An estimated 10% of heat is lost on the ground floor of the average home. The right floor insulation can contribute to a warmer, more comfortable home as well as lower electric bills. When considering home floor installation as a project that’s part of the energy efficiency practices for your home, it has to be decided whether the existing floor will be pulled up temporarily to complete the job, or whether the existing floor will be pulled up and redone after the insulation is completed.

Homeowners need to know whether the floors they’re about to insulate are suspended or solid. Suspended floors have floorboards that are nailed to support beams (or joists) that are also supported by bricks. Solid floors are laid directly onto the soil and they can be made of brick, concrete, stone or tile. There are several types of insulation materials that can be used, such as mineral or sheep wool, fiberglass, foam, cellulose, and quilt-type insulation. Although insulating floors can be a job done by the homeowner, if one has little experience with completing this type of job, it would be wise to contact a home floor installation company or contractor to assist or do the entire job.

Coat Your Garage With Epoxy

Epoxy floors are a covering of epoxy resins of about 2 millimeters thick over an existing floor. Many times, this type of floor is used for self-leveling of old, damaged concrete floors to achieve a leveled, smooth appearance. Because of its durable and smooth components, epoxy floors are widely used in industrial and commercial establishments. However, it’s also appealing to home residents because it works wonders for garage floors as well. It provides a lasting, durable texture when it’s applied to floor surfaces, and it comes in a variety of colors that blend in with the surrounding environment.

Check Your Garage Door

Since garages are a gateway into the home, it’s a well-known fact that much of the outside elements can be transferred into the home through a poorly insulated garage door. Besides being sure of proper installation that includes weather stripping and seals, homeowners need to be wise in their choice of materials used to construct a garage door. For instance, knowing that steel insulates better than wood could help substantially depending on the location of the home. Consult your local garage door company for more information. Homeowners must decide whether the repair is necessary, costing less than $1,000, or a total door replacement that could cost up to $4000.

Waterproof Your Basement

The basement is part of the foundation of a home, so if a homeowner is having problems with water seepage or worse, flooding, the homeowner is taking a big chance of not including correction of this problem in the energy efficiency practices of your home. Basement waterproofing information and specialists are available to advise how homeowners can complete the job themselves or call on a contractor to do the job.

The Bottom Line

Developing energy efficiency practices for your home is the wisest thing you can do. The goal of a home energy assessment is to eventually live within a home that operates under maximum energy efficiency which provides a robust and protected environment, ultimately resulting in lower utility bills.