(Family Features) - The average family spends $1500 a year on energy bills, nearly half of which goes to heating and cooling, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). A home energy audit and some quick fixes can save some of that hard-earned money.
The EPA estimates that homeowners can typically save up to 20 percent of heating and cooling costs by air sealing their homes and adding insulation in attics, floors over crawl spaces and accessible basement rim joints.
Conduct an energy audit to identify spots where energy is lost through gaps and cracks. Start in your basement and move upwards. Look for both visible gaps and cold or hot spots.
Your air-conditioning system set-up could be doing more than just heating and cooling your house. It could be an air-infiltration culprit. Check the HVAC ducts from your attic and basement into the living space. There may be gaps where the ducts go through the floor above into the ceiling below.
While plumbing pipes may be hidden behind or under the sink, it doesn't mean that the pipe penetrations aren't allowing unseen bugs and unwanted air into the house. Check for holes under the sink where the pipes enter from the floor or wall in all rooms that have running water (kitchen, bathroom, utility room, and laundry room).
Stand in front of the electrical box of your house and look at where the main electrical exits the box and enters the living space (in the basement look upwards). If there is a hole, seal it.
Use a screw driver to remove your outlet cover plates. Homes have holes cut in the walls for the outlets. Check for gaps between the wall and the metal box that houses the electrical socket.
Seal around the attic hatch frame to keep the unconditioned attic air from entering your living space.
The EPA recommends sealing these leaks with spray foam, caulk, or weather stripping. Insulating foam sealants, such as GREAT STUFF form an airtight, water-resistant seal. The foam is sandable, paintable, and can be trimmed with a utility knife afterwards and is easy to use for do-it-yourselfers of any skill level.
Other ways to save on energy
- Either installing a timed thermostat or by turning up or down the temperature before heading to work.
- Make sure the fireplace flu is closed and install glass fireplace doors to keep energy from escaping.
- Check to be sure no air vents are being blocked by furniture or drapery.
- Insulate any areas that are not heated and cooled (garage, attic, basement, or crawl space).
For more information on how you can save money by sealing gaps, visit www.dowgreatstuff.com.