Whether you live in a hot or cold climate, weatherproofing your home is a great way to cut utility expenses year round. Here are some of the top tips to weatherproof your home and save money.
When it comes to the costs of operating your home, your energy expenses are going to be near the top of the list in terms of the biggest outlays.
After all, it’s not cheap to heat your home during the winter months and cool it during the summer. If you live in an area that is prone to extreme weather, then the cost of making your home comfortable year-round can quickly add up.
However, the good news is that there are several ways to weatherproof your home with an eye toward saving cash. Some will require an upfront investment, while others will be low-cost initiatives. Either way, the more steps you take to weatherproof your home, the more you can potentially save.
With that in mind, here’s a look at six moves to weatherproof your home that will save you money in the short-term and in the long-term:
1. Plug Up Your Leaks
Sometimes it’s the little things that can have a big payoff. That’s particularly true when it comes to plugging the leaks and holes in your home. Air pockets around windows, doors and electrical outlets are sapping heat or cool air out of your home. This raises your energies costs along the way.
A surefire way to cut your monthly electricity bill is to seal and insulate your windows, doors, electric outlets and anywhere else air is getting in and out. The savings can be as much as 10% of your home heating and cooling bill, according to Energy.gov. Plus, it doesn’t require too much work to fix. Replacing old weather stripping on doors and caulking around windows can go a long way in preventing air from coming in or out.
Also, try installing sweeps that go on the bottom of doors and garage doors. You can also try sealing gaps around window air conditioners. Sealing wall electric outlets and switch plates can increase the savings even more.
2. Buy Energy Efficient Appliances
Rewind a few decades to when you purchased an appliance — be it a dishwasher or a refrigerator. You were pretty much guaranteed to have it for 20 years, if not longer. The problem is that when the manufacturers were creating these sturdy appliances, they didn’t have energy usage in mind. If some or all of your appliances fall in the old category, you may want to consider swapping them out for energy efficient ones to save money. The older the appliance is, the more energy it requires to run — costing you a lot and taxing the environment.
If your appliances don’t have the Energy Star label, then you are probably wasting energy and thus, dollars. For example, with an Energy Star certified dishwasher, it costs about $35 per year to run and saves an average of 3,870 gallons of water over its lifetime, according to Energystar.gov.
Energy efficient appliances consume less energy than older models, which also helps to reduce air pollution and fight climate change. That’s even more reason to swap out those old, energy-hogging appliances for new more efficient ones.
3. Install Solar Panels
Solar panels require an upfront investment. Over the long haul, they can more than pay you back for your efforts. Solar panels collect sun, converting it into energy to power your home. Once installed on the roof of your home, they can reduce your electricity bill greatly. In some cases, your local electricity company will even owe you a credit.
While solar panels can run upwards of $25,000, lots of state and federal government programs exist to help homeowners defray the cost. In the private sector, a lot of solar panel companies have cropped up. They enable consumers to lease the panels similar to how they rent their set-top boxes when getting a cable TV plan. The higher your electricity bill, the more you’ll benefit from solar panels.
There are some caveats when going this route. Your home has to be able to capture sun and your roof has to be new enough to support the panels. f upgrades and repairs are necessary, that could cost you money.
Don’t have the budget to weatherproof your home? You can lower your monthly bills by having BillFixers negotiate your current plan. You’ll keep all the same services, just at a lower rate.
4. Purchase Eco-Friendly Light Bulbs
Swapping out old light bulbs for more energy efficient ones may not seem like a big cost saver, but it can be. According to Energy.gov, bulbs certified by the government agency use 70% to 90% less energy than incandescent bulbs and last 15 times longer. That means if you swap out your old light bulbs for efficient ones, you can save on average $55 per year.
Add motion detector lights and dimmers to reduce your energy consumption, and you’ll increase your savings even more.
5. Smart Thermostats
Light bulbs aren’t the only way to save on your energy costs inside the home. Smart Thermostats like the Nest or the Ecobee can help you save money on your bills automatically. These days, consumers can get their hands on a smart thermostat for under $100, guaranteeing a return on their investment in less than a couple of years. You may even be eligible for a rebate through your electricity provider. For instance, Con Edison offers a $50 rebate program for qualified purchases. These thermostats, which are Internet-enabled, can be controlled remotely. So, you can turn on the heat 15 minutes before you’re expected arrival at home or shut it off when nobody is in the room.
These days, consumers can get their hands on a smart thermostat for under $100, guaranteeing a return on their investment in less than a couple of years.
If you can’t afford the upfront investment for a new smart thermostat, you can save on your heating and costs by lowering or raising the temperature you keep your home. Each degree you raise your thermostat in the summer and lower it in the winter can save you approximately 1% of cooling and heating costs.
6. Strategically Plant Trees to Save on Energy Costs
Planting trees can do more than produce oxygen. They can save you money during the hot and sweaty summer months, as well. Strategically planting trees and shrubs near your home can create shade, which will cool your home down in the summer. That means less reliance on air conditioners during the summer and more money in your wallet. According to the Arbor Day Foundation, the proper placement of specific shrubs and trees around your home can reduce summer air conditioning costs by 35%.
In addition, if you choose to go with trees that drop leaves in the winter, then the added sunlight will help to warm your home during the cold months.
Whether you live in a warm climate or a cold one, weatherproofing your home can go a long way in saving you money each year. Some of the initiatives are low cost, like sealing up air leaks in your home. Others will require a bigger upfront investment, such as installing solar panels on your roof.
Incorporating some or all of the strategies to weatherproof your home will ensure you are cutting your energy bills. Try making one or two of the above changes. You’ll start to see a respectable increase in your savings. Soon, you’ll free up more room in your finances to invest in things like your retirement fund and your savings account.
Have you tried to weatherproof your home? What was it like? What tips have been helpful for you?
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Barbara Fraiser is a freelance writer and journalist. She contributes to several digital and print brands on topics related to home improvement and personal finance. She lives and works in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
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