Worried about where to start with your home improvement projects? I know the feeling – if you try to think about doing everything at once, then the whole process can really seem huge and unmanageable.
Don’t panic. To help you get started, we’ve put together a list of 5 key home improvement projects. Some are simple enough to do yourself in a weekend, while others should be done by a professional. Either way, not only will these projects help you reduce your energy costs, but they should also add convenience and value to your Texas home.
1) Switch ALL Your Light Bulbs to LEDs
If you replaced the incandescent bulbs in your home with CFL bulbs two years ago, chances are pretty good that those CFLs are starting to burn out now (assuming CFL bulb life of 8,000 hours at 10 hours per day). During those two years, prices for LED bulbs have drastically decreased. Some LED bulbs cost the same as — or even less — than CFL bulbs, and on average, they use LESS electricity than a CFL bulb. Plus, LED bulbs do not contain toxic mercury.
In short, LED bulb technology has also improved from practical to WOW. They dim, they change color, and you can even program your home’s lights with your smartphone, leading to all sorts of convenience, control, and savings possibilities.
2) Install a Smart Thermostat
Yes, there is a difference between “programmable” and “smart” thermostats. While programmable thermostats are more advanced than the old electro-mechanical thermostats, smart thermostats gather and organize data that’s totally unique to how you use energy in your home. They then pass that information (and control capabilities) over a local network or the internet to your PC or smart device. This gives you more control and more flexibility with managing your Texas home’s energy.
Many smart thermostat systems are easy to install, and the best ones can even get up and running in less than half an hour. Smart thermostats can also operate as smart home hubs to interconnect with smart lighting systems as well as home security systems. Many of these can be found for less than $500.
3) Replace Your Draftiest Door or Window
Drafty entry doors and windows cost you money – simply because they let out temperature-controlled air into the outdoors. Find the worst offender in your home and examine it to see if you can repair. Often, this just requires some fresh caulk or replacing the weatherstripping. However, if you discover the door or window can’t close properly or has damage to the window frame or the sill and wood framing that holds the window in place, then it’s time to replace it with one that’s Energy Star qualified.
Unless you’ve got mad carpentry skills, this one is best left to professionals. While that may seem expensive, remember that these doors and windows are built to seal better and lose less heated/cooled air through conduction and radiation effects. Low-e coatings on glass substantially reduce energy loss by up to 50%. You’ll notice the effect right away on your comfort level in your home.
4) Install a New High Efficiency Water Heater
About 18% of your home’s energy usage goes to heating a tank full of water and keeping it hot and ready for use ’round the clock (even when no one is at home). It’s a very inefficient system and most water heaters wear out in ten years. Installing a new high-efficiency water heater can reduce your energy use and save you money. If your water heater is still in the prime of its life, then adding a water heater blanket can reduce heat loss by up to 45%.
Consider adding insulation to hot water pipes as well. Also remember that yearly flushing can extend your water heater’s lifespan by removing scale and sediments that built up over time.
5) Seal and Insulate Ductwork
Your ductwork might be costing you $20 for every $100 you spend running your heating/cooling. Unsealed or uninsulated ductwork loses up to 20% of the energy from your HVAC system. Worse still, if you have unsealed return duct work passing through crawlspaces, your furnace may be blowing mold, mildew, and fungus spores throughout your home.
Insulating and sealing your duct work improves the air circulation in your home, keeps the air cleaner, and makes the air handling system cool and heat more efficiently. By using duct sealing mastic and aluminum duct tape (DO NOT USE the cheap vinyl tape stuff) to seal holes or gaps as well as covering all supply ducts with duct insulation, you can significantly improve your Texas home’s energy efficiency and comfort.
Hopefully, these examples have given you some ideas of where to start and what the benefits are. You’ll not only find savings but you may find that these home improvement projects add convenience, comfort, and value to your Texas home as well. Make a difference in your energy bills in 2015 by investing a little time, effort, and money. Sometimes all it takes is some planning and a little … resolution.