The US government’s Energy Star website estimates that a handy homeowner can save up to 20% on heating and cooling costs (or reduce total annual energy bill 10%) just by adding weather sealing and insulation in the home. Here are some simple changes that you can make to reduce your home’s energy loss and save money.
Plastic Window Insulation
Inexpensive, and easy to install, shrink film can keep your heat from flying out the window this winter. Window insulation kits are typically in stock at home supply and hardware stores, and, for less than ten dollars, you can usually get a kit that will insulate five standard size windows or at least one extra large window. Installation is simple, and, when shrink film is properly hung, the plastic window covering is virtually invisible.
Insulated Roman Blinds and Curtains
Another cost-effective way to help reduce your home’s energy loss is to invest in insulated window coverings. These can be helpful even if you already have insulated windows. Like plastic window insulation, padded blinds and curtains create an air pocket between your window pane and the curtain, buffering temperature exchange between your home and the great outdoors.
The cost of insulated blinds and curtains of course varies, depending on the number and size of your windows. Standard window are much less expensive to cover, with per-window cost usually under $100. Large window and odd sizes can cost substantially more.
Roll Out the Insulation
Well-insulated attic space will protect your home from both the heat of summer and the cold of winter, and it is very easy to install yourself. Just be sure to wear a disposable jumpsuit and a dust mask. There are two general types of insulation, cellulose and fiberglass.
Cellulose insulation is very cost-effective and environmentally friendly. This recycled, organic, loose-fill is blown into walls and attics. It is usually composed of recycled newspaper, which has been treated with a flame retardant. Depending on the amount of insulation that you purchase, most home supply stores will either allow you to use the blower at no cost or will charge you a nominal rental fee that is well worth it.
Fiberglass roll insulation is available in short batts for use in tight spaces as well as longer stretches that will quickly cover open spaces. It can even be purchased completely wrapped in plastic sheathing to allow for itch-free installation.
Cost of insulation is variable, depending on the amount needed, but for do-it-yourself insulation of the attic space in an average home, insulation should cost approximately one to three hundred dollars.
Sealing Other Leaks
Air leaks, and drafts around windows and doors, are often easy to find because the stream of cool air can be felt. Sealing these leaks with caulk, spray foam, or weather stripping will have a significant impact on improving your comfort and reducing utility bills.
You may be worried about the possibility of sealing your house too tightly, but this is very unlikely, particularly in older homes. If you are concerned about how tightly sealed your home is, hire a Home Energy Rater to do a energy efficiency audit and assess your home’s actual leakage.
For more tips on low-cost ways to increase the energy efficiency of your home, see the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Star website.