We all like our houses to be warm when it’s cold and cold when it’s warm – because we’re human and ever-so-slightly ornery that way. What we don’t like is knowing that our house isn’t airtight, thus sending a large portion of our expensive air into the great outdoors. Not just because it jacks up the utility bills and contributes to environmental problems but because it calls up the image of your father yelling, “I’M NOT PAYING TO HEAT THE ENTIRE STATE OF MINNESOTA! SHUT THE @#$% DOOR!” You’re an adult now so you keep the door shut, but that may not be enough. Homes are filled with small cracks and gaps and those cracks and gaps mean you need to use more energy to keep everything toasty.
We’ve gathered ten ways Thumbtack can help you save money while also saving the earth. Think solar panels and fresh sidewall and heating bill-friendly gap-filling. With what you’ll save on your energy bills after making a few adjustments, it’s well worth it. Especially when you hire a pro to do it for you.
10 Ways To Make Your Home More Energy Efficient
1. Energy Audit
If the very phrase “energy efficient” makes your head spin (we totally get it), you may want to start by having a local expert come in and take a look at your home and write up a list of recommendations.
Just because a window is shut doesn’t mean it’s keeping out the cold. Breeze can be sneaky. If you pass your front window and feel a draft, you’ll want to consider updating. Even if you don’t feel a draft, there may be a slow leak that’s sending your energy out into the atmosphere. Caulking the cracks is one option we discuss further down the list – but updating old windows with double-panes can do considerably more.
Turn that sun into electricity. We have the technology, so you may as well harness the mighty power of that flaming ball in the sky for yourself. If you generate more electricity than you need, you may even be able to sell it back to the electric company.
If you live in an older home, checking out the sidewall insulation is a worthy to-do list item. Eventually, insulation will break down – or, if your home is old enough, it may have been built before sidewall insulation was invented. Installing proper insulation may be the best thing you can do to retain a good temperature, because we’re not just talking about small scattered leaks, we’re talking entire walls. This job can be tricky and is best left to the experts.
5. Leak Testing
Leaks happen in even the most well-crafted houses. When you have leaks, you’re pumping manufactured air into the great outdoors for no good purpose. We all like to have a good purpose for things, so let’s keep our heat and cold to ourselves. The rest of the list covers where leaks may occur and what you can do about it, but first you need a clear picture of where you’re losing air – something a licensed pro can handle for you. Usual leak suspects include the seam between the top of the foundation wall and the wood frame, around windows and doorways, through electrical receptacles and switches on exterior walls, around fireplaces, laundry chutes, and attic hatchway doors.
Installing your HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) system requires drilling a big hole through a wall in your house. That hole was caulked but caulk has an aggravating tendency to fail over time, letting in cold air and snow and anything else the weather systems can produce. Having a professional check the system and patch up any leaks will do wonders for your heating bill.
Often people living in older homes that have been freshly painted suddenly feel warmer and cozier during the winter. Because the painter caulked the cracks and holes of the house’s exterior. But you don’t need a fresh paint job. You can hire someone to fill those small gaps and let your paint job continue to do its thing.
8. Flue Check
Do you have a fireplace? If so, it’s probably siphoning out air at an astonishing rate. Given the material difference between wood and the masonry or metal, framing rarely fits snugly. But any good home improvement pro can check this out and seal it up for you. Not only will this help keep pricey air from escaping, it will protect your living room rug from sparks that leap from the fire.
9. Seal Windows
Windows settle and wood warps and contracts, leaving gaps around the windows. If you’ve ever passed a window and felt a ghostly chill, don’t fret. You don’t need an exorcist, you just need a handyman.
10. Attic Securing
Your attic may be letting out an ungodly amount of warmed or cooled air – and letting in raccoons. Stop that nonsense in its clawed tracks. Send a pro up to the top of your home to scout out insulation leaks. They can fill the holes left by wires, chimneys, and electrical boxes and secure pull-down attic stairways.