Summer’s arrival is a welcome one to many of us, but this season can often spell trouble for your bank account. As temperatures start to rise, it’s likely your energy bills will, too. For those who want a chance to reduce their environmental impact, summer is the perfect time to save both energy and money. Here are some home upgrades that can curb your carbon footprint and keep more money in your pocket over time, just in time for summer vacation.
Get a new roof
Your roof can have a substantial effect on how much energy is needed to keep your home comfortable. Older, poorly insulated roofs can let cool air escape and bring in too much heat from outside during summer. That will cause your air conditioner to work much harder to keep the house at a comfy temperature. Replacing your roof with a more energy-efficient option will help cut costs and reduce environmental impact. For example, a cool metal roofing can save you 25% more in energy costs compared to one made of asphalt shingles. It also contains recycled content and can be completely recycled once it’s outlived its usefulness (and they can last for decades). It may be more of an investment up front, but you’ll save a lot in the long run.
Opt for energy-efficient air conditioning
You probably rely on your AC unit to keep your home cool in summer, as most American families do. But it might not be running efficiently, and that’ll cost you a lot. Regular maintenance check-ups will allow you to ensure air filters are cleaned and that there are no leaks or other problems that could result in higher bills throughout the season. If your unit is nearing the end of its lifespan, be sure to replace it with a high-efficiency unit that’s properly sized for your home.
The use of ceiling fans can stretch your air conditioning, too. They’ll use less energy than an AC unit will, which means you may be able to get away with setting your thermostat a few degrees higher and use the fans to keep the cold air circulating. Just remember that fans cool people, not rooms, so they should be turned off whenever you don’t need them.
Rethink your windows
Older windows simply aren’t as energy efficient as new ones, as the former can be drafty and of lower quality. That can let excess heat get inside your home and let cool air escape, which means that your air conditioner has to work harder to restore the temperatures. According to the federal government’s Energy Star program, replacing old windows with new, energy-efficient ones can save you anywhere from $25 to $450 a year on energy costs. Replacing all your home’s windows can set you back a few thousand bucks, though, and such a measure isn’t always necessary. There are compromises you can make to improve energy efficiency while sticking to a budget.
Your window dressings matter, too. Be sure to keep blinds and curtains closed during the hottest part of the day to keep out light and heat from the outdoors. You might love the look of natural light, but you won’t love what it does to your energy bill. If you can add in some shade, especially when rooms aren’t in use, you’ll be happier when you receive your bill every month.
Insulate your attic
We mentioned earlier that installing a new roof can help keep the cool air in and the hot air out. But a lack of attic insulation could derail these efforts. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, nine out of 10 U.S. homes are under-insulated, but fixing this problem can reduce energy bills by about 10%. Adding better insulation will also increase the value of your home. If your home was built pre-1980 — or your winter heating bills are sky-high — you might benefit from getting new insulation. Your attic should have at least 10 inches of fiberglass insulation or eight inches of cellulose insulation. If it’s dirty, you should invest in new insulation. The U.S. construction market was worth $1,162 billion in 2016, but this is one expense you can’t afford to DIY; be sure to call a reputable contractor to install it for you.
(Note: Homeowners may qualify for a deferred loan to get needed insulation. These can be interest-free and completely free if you live in your home long enough and qualify based on income. Check with your county. -Lisa)
By following these tips, you can lower your energy bills, improve the look and function of your home, and even save some green in the long run.