As fall turns into winter, many families find that their utility bills skyrocket. The struggle to keep an inefficient home warm can strain any family’s budget. Thankfully, constantly ramping up the heat is not the only way to stay warm. Here are five simple solutions that can make your home more energy-efficient.
- Windows: Windows are crucial to maintaining an energy-efficient home. According to the Energy Information Administration, up to one-third of a typical home’s energy loss stems from windows and doors. If insulated window panels aren’t in your budget this year, an easy alternative is to add heavy drapery around your windows. This creates a thermal barrier that prevents heat from escaping your home. Remember to open your blinds or drapes during the day to let in the natural sunlight. Another option is to buy caulk and seal your windows yourself. However, that option might be too permanent for some Chicago homeowners. If a short term option is the way you want to go this winter, drive to your local hardware store and purchase protective films that can be placed over the windows. Even though this can get expensive, homeowners will see a savings in less than a year. Come spring, these films can be removed.
- Attic Ventilation: Attics are typically kept cool in the winter in order to prevent snow from melting and collecting as ice in the gutters. With this in mind, you definitely don’t want to spend unnecessary money heating your attic along with the rest of your house. To prevent heat transfer from below, consider adding extra insulation to your attic flooring. This can be completed by a professional or ambitious homeowners can try to tackle this project themselves. Energy Star has a DIY guide on their website with instructions on how to determine if you can complete this project by yourself. Click here for further information.
- Chimney eat Loss: For those of us with a fireplace, we know that it can provide a good source of heat. However, did you know that up to 70% of heat is lost in a room due to an open chimney? What is the solution? A balloon! If your chimney is causing a draft it is essential to put in this type of balloon which floats inside the chimney and stops air leaks by filling up the space. This helps to block the cold air flow. If you want to save money and you are handy there is a DIY option to creating your own balloon.
- Insulation: A huge problem facing some homeowners is higher heating bills. One reason could be that your home is not properly insulated. If you want to test the effectiveness of the insulation in your home, buy an inexpensive infrared thermometer (usually between $15 and $50) and test the temperature difference between the exterior and interior of your walls. The thermometer will calculate the difference between the interior and exterior of your wall. Make sure to compare the result to the outdoor and indoor temperature on the day you test the wall. If the temperature difference is too small, you might want to invest in more efficient insulation. When looking to replace the insulation, chose one with a higher R-Value. Unfortunately, replacing insulation is a costly home improvement project, but will save you money in the long run by lowering your utility bills.
Whether you are looking for a new home in Chicago or putting yours on the market, take the time to check out your home’s energy efficiency. Lower monthly utility bills, especially during Chicago’s cold winter months, can be a huge selling point to any potential buyer.
Make sure to leave a comment below on how you have prepared your home for winter. For more on Chicago real estate news click here.