If you had a boat with a hole in it, wouldn’t you want to fix it before you sink? Well, your home may be the titanic without you even knowing it. With money tight these days, and every day for that matter, you may be looking for small things to do save a little bit here and there. There are things you can do right at home to save energy, thus saving money. Some of the things that are often overlooked can be big money savers.
First of all, put yourself together. No, I don’t mean comb your hair and change your underwear. I mean get some stuff you will need for your project together. I like to put everything in a 5 gallon bucket if possible. These make great tool and supply carriers because they are a good size and have a handle. Regular toolboxes work great for tools, but not so much for carrying around bulky items.
Start by getting a tube of caulk, caulk gun, duck tape, electrical tape, light socket covers, energy efficient bulbs, pipe wrenches, crescent wrenches, vice grips, screwdrivers, expandable foam insulation, and window insulation strips. This will give you the basic tools needed to do a house tune up.
Then, you want to go around your house and make a paper list of the things you want to fix. Write down or diagram every hole, crack, fissure, gaping hole, etc. you see around your house that may be letting in air from the outside. Look for old fashion light bulbs that can be updated. Look for leaks small and big in any pipes or fixtures. Look for appliances that are rarely used that are still plugged in. Pay special attention to windows as they can be big energy suckers.
Caulk around windows or fill cracks in existing caulk. Replace all those old light bulbs with florescent compact bulbs. Tighten and loose connections on plumbing that may be allowing water to leak. Patch any holes using the correct type of material. If you have wood floors, you may be able to use wood filler or replace the damaged piece. If you have cracks in the foundation, you could patch them with concrete filler if they are not too big. But if more extensive damage is detected, better to get a contractor to see what is going on so the problem doesn’t get worse.
Insulation is probably the biggest area for improvement. It is so cheap, and can make a big difference in energy costs, so why not use it? Put insulation around windows and doors, put insulators behind light switch covers on outside walls, and definitely wrap your water heater in a blanket, as this is a cheap way to save money. Think also about adding more insulation to your attic. I have seen people practically fill their attics to the top with it. I wouldn’t suggest that, but you definitely need a good layer to keep out the nasty heat in summer and cold in the winter. Think about wrapping your heating ducts as well in insulation as this will also help.
Then do all the little stuff. Disconnect that alarm clock in the guest bedroom that you only use three days a year. Turn your refrigerator temp down a degree or two if it is plenty cold. Use a thermometer to gauge where you are at. Just a degree can save you bucks, so consult your owners manual for recommended temps and adjustments (find it online if you threw it away like everyone else). Same thing with your water heater. Turn it down a degree or two to save energy. You will know you went too far if your shower feels like a mountain spring the next day. Your house thermostat should be the next area. Get an electronic one and program it. Think about putting on a few more clothes in winter and reducing the thermostat temp. If you don’t have to run around in your underwear in January, bundling up and reducing the heat will save you a ton of money.
By sealing out the bad stuff, and keeping the good stuff inside, you can have toasty warm and energy efficient home. When you are done, set yourself a reminder to do the same walk around next year to see if there are any other areas of improvement. Keep making your home more and more efficient so your home doesn’t sink like a leaky boat. Read my other great money saving energy ideas in my other article.