Make Your Home More Energy Efficient

September 16, 2016/Energy

At Hasler Homes, we are doing our research so we can work on being a more energy efficient builder. While doing that, we are discovering all sorts of great information on how we can make your current or future home more energy efficient with little changes or additions. I think most of us can agree that living in a home that is using less energy, giving off less green-house gases, while saving on bills sounds amazing but how to begin can be a bit daunting. Over a series of posts we’re going to share with you our findings; everything from simple D.I.Y. projects that you can complete in an afternoon to ideas on how to build a completely new energy efficient home (and get a little money back in your pocket while doing so).

First, lets talk about keeping the warm air in, and that cold air out.

As we enter Fall, we’ll find ourselves turning up the thermostat more often than not.  My mother always said, “We’re not paying to heat the whole neighbourhood!”. She was, of course, referring to the wide open front door and the blasting forced air heating blowing nicely next to that open front door.  With everyday living becoming more expensive month by month, the last thing we want to do is pay to heat the outside.  The obvious loss of heat would be open doors and windows.  But the silent culprits in your home where that warm air could be leaking out are your doors which connect to the outside, your windows, and your electrical outlets.

Even if your house is new, you may still want to check for air leaks. Some weather stripping only lasts 1-3 years, but if you want to do a test to see exactly where there may be leaks, here is a quick and easy test you can do.  All you need for this test is a stick of incense and some painting tape or post-it notes to remind yourself where you notice the leaks.

D.I.Y. Building Pressurization Test

A common way to check for leaks in your home is using a stick of incense and conduct a basic building pressurization test to increase infiltration through cracks and leaks, making them more visible.

  1. Turn off all combustion appliances such as gas burning furnaces and water heaters on a cool, very windy day.
  2. Shut all windows, exterior doors, and fireplace flues.
  3. Turn on all exhaust fans that blow air outside, such as your clothes dryer, bathroom fans, or stove vents, or use a large window fan to suck the air out of the rooms.
  4. Light an incense stick and pass it around the edges of common leak sites (mentioned above). Wherever the smoke wavers or is sucked out of or blown into the room, there’s a draft. Take your post-it or painting tape and put a square when you find them. You don’t have to do this twice! You can also use a damp hand to locate leaks; any drafts will feel cool to your hand.
  5. If you don’t want to turn off your furnace, you can just turn on all your exhaust fans to depressurize your home.

Windows

Once you’ve figured out where the leaks are, choose what kind of insulation you want to use. For windows, one of the most cost-effective and convenient ways to do this yourself is using window insulation tape which you can get at any local hardware store. To save yourself from buying too much or too little you can measure the windows in advance because the tape is sold in prepackaged rolls. You just need length and height, and then multiply that by two for how much you need for the full perimeter of each window.

Doors

For the doors you can use a self-stick weather rubber foam stripping which goes around the edges of your door to help create a tight seal. You also may want to purchase a door sweeper which comes in a variety styles. The one pictured below is the simplest to install, just make sure you measure your door before purchasing.

The simple addition of a door sweeper will close the gap between the bottom of the door and the threshold.  Both of these should cost under $50, and only take about 20 minutes to install. Doing this to your exterior doors will not only keep the heat in and the cold air out, but it will also keep the bugs from getting inside. Bonus!

Outlets

We left the easiest for the last! All you need is a screw driver and some outlet insulation pads. You should be able to find all sorts of options to fit your light switches but if not, you can always purchase the traditional light switch style, use a pencil and trace onto the insulation pad using the light switch cover and then carefully cut the hole(s) with a utility knife. Once you have unscrewed the plate, you simply put the insulation against the wall and screw the plate back on. It should look like this (below) before you screw the plate back on.

Now that you’ve done the leg work, sit back and wait for those (much smaller) bills to trickle in.  You should notice a difference if you’ve sealed everything properly. You can always do another Building Pressurization Test to see the difference, and make sure all the leaks are sealed. You may be reading this and wondering, will it really make a difference? If every home made an effort to lessen their carbon footprint, the answer is YES. We live in a world where we have so many options when it comes to how we live, and its very common knowledge these days that those choices effect our Earth, which in turn, effects our future. We may be highlighting the fact that you’ll save money, but at the end of the day, it helps the Earth, too.  If you are curious to see what the carbon footprint of your home is, use the Carbon Footprint Calculator, it may make simple changes like these seem worth it.

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