How to Save Money on Your Family Home’s Utility Bills
Just like any other parent out there, lowering our family home’s utility bills was always in the back of our mind. So, when we decided to purchase a home that needed an extensive renovation, I took the opportunity to investigate thoroughly all building systems that would lower our water, power and gas monthly bills. As an architect, I was at an advantage, but as I tell my clients, as long as you set goals and start taking the initiative to make changes over time, you will see a positive impact on your utility bills. If you do not have the budget for a renovation, consider these weekend projects or add them to the honey-to-do list.
Windows and Doors
Most heat loss occurs at openings, for example at windows and doors. If replacing your existing windows with Low E, argon filled double insulated windows is not an option, you may purchase film kits to increase the R-value of the glazing, insulated shades and/or even installing an insulated panel, often seen installed in historic homes. Also, checking and sealing all openings as required is an economical way to reduce loss of conditioned air, especially during those critical months of the year. Add weather-stripping around doors and gasket thresholds and caulk deteriorating joints at the exterior face of openings.
The quickest and easiest option to see a return in your utility bills is replacing your light bulbs with LEDs. There are an array of options you can pick up at your local hardware store or purchase online. Another plus is not having to replace bulbs for 15-25 years, perfect for those hard to reach fixtures. Also, before purchasing a new light fixture, ensure that it is LED capable.
Another way to ensure a conditioned-tight home is to reevaluate your insulation. Work with an insulation consultant to see what of the three insulation available is right for the construction type of your home, including raised homes. Consider using a spray foam insulation below your raised home’s first level.
If it is time to replace an appliance, consider energy efficient appliances, some of which are labeled Energy Star. Speak to your appliance salesperson and have them help you compare energy savings on a yearly bases.
If your water heater is on the out, consider a tankless water heater. There are several options available based on your home’s fixture count, design and goals. Also, consider a dual flush toilet to reduce water consumption as well as Water Sense compliant plumbing fixtures that consume less water. And, consider rain water harvesting storage containers to irrigate your garden, wash cars, and for other exterior uses.
If a new dual zone system compressor system is not in the budget, consider installing ceiling fans. Some fans offer multiple speed settings and reverse spin. Also, purchase a programmable thermostat to control the temperature based on time of day and anticipated usage. And/or have your system reviewed by a contractor to ensure there are duck leaks and replace your filters as directed for optimal use.
These are just some options to explore. Consider consulting with an architect or contractor for specific systems and considerations that fit your family home’s budget, construction type, aesthetic and short and long term goals.