Today is Earth Day, a day focused on being a little “greener.” Washington Energy Services is a Magnolia-based family-owned company that sells energy efficient home improvement products and services. They sent us a list of the top five energy projects for your home:
Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Energy Star Program
1. Seal the leaks around windows and exterior doors. This is easy to do and will help your home keep the heat in. Use caulk, weather stripping or spray foam and it will have an impact on improving your comfort and reducing utility bills. You can also contact a handyman, or a reputable window, insulation or painting company to provide this service.
2. Stop electrical outlets and wall switches from letting cold air in. Outlets and wall switches leak air and create heat loss. Caulking and sealing air leaks isn’t just for windows and doors, you should do it wherever plumbing or electrical wiring penetrates through walls, floors or ceilings, and in recessed light fixtures. Most homes will see 2%-4% air leakage this way, and it’s easy to fix. Caulking is one option or use foam gaskets behind outlets and switch plates on the walls. If you want to see this for yourself, hold incense or a smoke source up to an outlet. If the smoke flows horizontally, you have air leaks.
3. The number one way to improve home energy efficiency is insulation. Most homes, even newer ones lack good insulation or enough of it. According to the Department of Energy, “Inadequate insulation and air leakage are leading causes of energy waste in most American homes. Energy use and bills can be reduced significantly by adding insulation.” While traditional rolls of fiberglass are still around, new types of foam insulation offer higher quality and greater flexibility in tight spaces. Talk to a professional about local code requirements and recommendations for your area.
4. Clean and seal heating ducts. Almost 20% of the air that moves through your duct system is lost due to leaks and poorly sealed connections. Over time, ducts can sag or collapse. Vermin and other Seattle animals can chew holes in crawl space ductwork. Ducts can also come apart at the seams. When this happens, air that should be going to the rooms in your home is instead being wasted by ending up in your attic, your walls, or under your house. If duct tape was used on your ductwork originally, it’s best to have it replaced with aluminum or foil tape. Traditional duct tape deteriorates quickly. Metal seams should be cleaned and then sealed with duct mastic, which doesn’t crack and creates a permanent seal.
5. Let your equipment breathe. Your heating and cooling systems depend on a flow of air to maximize their efficiency. Homeowners can easily change the furnace filter, and check for leaves/debris around an outside heat pump or air conditioner. A clogged air intake outside or dirty indoor furnace filter limits air flow to the equipment and causes it to function inefficiently. It can eventually lead to costly breakdowns and repairs. This is similar to changing the air filter in your car. Electronic filters typically need cleaning at least twice per year and paper filters need replacing. Check your product warranty for your manufacturer’s specific instructions.
Washington Energy Services recommends to consider a home energy audit if you’re interested in saving energy. The home energy audit is a three-hour analysis that measures about two-dozen elements in the home. The non-profit association, Home Performance Washington, can help you find a local company that provides energy audit services.