There are things you can do any time of the year to save money and make sure your home is operating as efficiently as possible. Here are some tips from Dave Borowski, Director of Technical Training at Direct Energy Services:
- Insulation is the best money you will ever spend: Insulation starts working from day one and never stops. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, proper insulation in the home will save money on the cost of heating and cooling. If wood is exposed on the horizontal trusses or roof members in the attic, chances are it needs insulation added. Insulation goes hand-in-hand with a good air quality system. While tight homes conserve energy, all homes require controlled ventilation to eliminate odors and maintain proper oxygen levels.
- Investigate all of your energy thieves: Understand where your energy is going. When plugged in, electronics and chargers use electricity whether they are being used or not. A quick fix — use a power strip, but turn off the strip when it’s not being used. Or, plug it in where the strip is controlled by the light switch and turns off when you leave the room.
- Maintain your appliances and mechanical systems: Have you ever vacuumed your refrigerator coils? Most people don’t, but a dirty coil won’t transfer heat because the dirt acts as an insulator. Cleaning coils and changing filters on your HVAC system are two things any homeowner can do to make their home run more efficiently. It’s also recommended to hire professionals to inspect and clean mechanical systems, such as the furnace, and to clean air ducts annually.
- Make sure your home’s humidity is in the proper range: According to the EPA, if your humidity is too high or low it can cause damage to the home and its contents. Humidity control is also important for controlling indoor allergens and bacteria. In some climates that may mean the use of both a humidifier and dehumidifier, depending on the season, to keep your home between 30 and 50 percent relative humidity. Newer smart thermostats can help regulate the humidity in a home year-round.
- Keep it clean and dry: In addition to checking the filters in your heating and air conditioning systems to make sure they are clean and unobstructed, homeowners should pay careful attention to keeping their house clean, and not just to keep on your mother-in-law’s good side. According to the National Association of Home Builders, “dust and dirt, if allowed to accumulate, can harm the finishes on blinds, cabinets, countertops, floors, sinks, tubs, toilets, walls, tiles, and other items. If dirt does accumulate, make sure to clean it with a substance that does not scratch or damage the finish. The outside of your house should be checked on a regular basis to make sure that gutters and downspouts aren’t clogged, window sills are caulked and the errant sprinkler isn’t showering your home.