Heating, cooling, and powering your home often take up a big chunk of your budget. They’re necessary expenditures, obviously (clothes won’t dry themselves and your house isn’t going to warm up because you ask it politely), but wouldn’t it be nice to use some of that money towards another urgent expense?
Among Kosciusko County homeowners, paying for just heating and cooling costs an average of $6,351 per year, according to research by manta.com. That’s a big portion of your budget, and it doesn’t even include other electrical costs.
Luckily, Milford building inspector Tom Bulger came on-site to teach HOW’s Home Energy Impact class, focusing on little tips and tricks that can make a big impact on your energy bill. We’ve compiled what we learned here so that you can go home and cut back on those costs!
1. Seal your outlets
According to Bulger, “A house is just like a vacuum; if there’s even a tiny hole, everything will blow right through it.” Homes are full of tiny holes. When electric wires or gas lines are put in, the installers often make the holes bigger than they need to be so their materials will fit easier. Then, winter rolls around and cold air seeps into your house through those holes, causing your furnace to go into overdrive to keep your house at the temperature you’d like. Many times, it’s the outlets on your external walls that let that cold in.
To prevent these leaks and conserve energy, you can place inexpensive socket sealers, easily and cheaply online or at any home improvement store, inside your electrical outlets. They will keep the wind out, your heat in, and your furnace operating as it should. To see if your outlets need sealed, try turning off exhaust fans (like your clothes dryer, stove vents and bathroom fans), holding a candle in front of your outlets and seeing if the flame flickers. If it does, just remove the cover with a screwdriver and insert the sealer!
2. Upgrade your lightbulbs
Something many homeowners are reluctant to do is to invest in LED lights, preferring the CFL or incandescent bulbs they’ve always had. When you look at the prices for the LEDs, it may seem like a waste of money; your bulbs are still working, why would you spend money to replace them? Take a look at these numbers describing how much each type of bulb costs for 50,000 hours of use, taking both the price of the bulb and the energy costs into account:
– LED – $85.75 (using 1 bulb)
– CFL – $89.75 (using 5 bulbs)
– Incandescent – $352.50 (!) (42 bulbs)
Not only do LEDs use substantially less electricity per bulb, they also rarely need to be changed. If you were to place LEDs in only the three most-used sockets in your home, you would save $20 dollars per year. If you were to swap out the rest, you could save substantially more. (Also, there’s no mercury in LED or CFL bulbs – they’re safer too!)
3. Not using it? Unplug it!
A common misconception about plugged-in electronics is that they don’t use power when they’re not actively being used. Unfortunately, that isn’t true. Whenever something is plugged in, it’s using power.
That cellphone charger you leave plugged in during the day even when you’re not charging your phone? It’s using electricity. The toaster that goes unused except for once in the morning? It’s using electricity. That turned-off lamp in the basement you use twice a week? It’s using electricity.
Now, some power strips will automatically stop using electricity when turned off, but that’s the exception, not the rule. So, when you’re not using something, unplug it! Your energy bill will thank you.
4. Don’t just replace your insulation
Just because you put new insulation in doesn’t mean the problems you had keeping the cold out will disappear. Many times, insulation blowers just blow more insulation on top of what you already have without sealing the gaps in your walls or floors that are actually causing the problems. Be thorough and use some caulk, vacker rods, or putty to seal up your leaks.
5. Keep your walls and floors clear of animals
One of the most common ways homes lose energy efficiency is when animals get into your insulation. A mouse, a squirrel, a raccoon – you name it, it wants to get cozy in your walls or floor. Mobile homes are particularly vulnerable to these uninvited guests, where animals are the #1 cause of heat loss.
“Animals will go up under your house or mobile home, find a hole, and make themselves at home in your insulation,” Bulger said. “The only way to get them out is by bringing in an exterminator, and the only way to keep them out is to make sure your walls and the underside of your house are sealed completely.” If you think animals might be living in the crevices of your home, try turning off all your fans and vents on a comfortable day and listen for them scurrying around. After you have them removed, re-insulate and seal up the entrances they’ve been using for good.
If you would like to learn more about the ways HOW impacts our community or attend any of our classes, including our Home Energy Impact class or our Life Cycles of Home Ownership class, please reach out to us! You can contact us at (574) 269-7641 ext. 106, fill out this form, or follow us on Facebook. Additionally, you can come to our offices at 109 W Catherine St. Milford, IN 46542. We are always looking for donors and volunteers so that we can impact the lives of more people!
At Housing Opportunities of Warsaw, our mission is to encourage and expand safe and affordable housing by providing opportunity and choice through investment in people and communities. Through educational courses, emergency home repair and home retrofit programs, assessing homes for health risks, and transitional housing, we are dedicated to helping our neighbors get through times of difficulty and become self-sufficient once more.