Old homes don’t get the love they deserve. Although they may present more repair and maintenance needs than newer homes, old homes are often cheaper than their newer counterparts. Whether you rent or own the old home you’re living in, you probably struggle with high utility bills. To improve your home’s energy efficiency, try integrating the tips mentioned below.
Water heaters have been around for more than a hundred years. In fact, the prototype for the modern tank water heater was developed in the late 1800s, more than 130 years ago.
Although tankless water heaters have grown in popularity over the past couple of decades, tank-type water heaters are still the most popular variety.
If you have a tanked water heater, consider increasing the insulation on your water heater. You can find insulating jackets made specifically for water heater insulation. Buying one of these is much simpler than crafting makeshift insulation on your own. It’s also affordable, especially considering how long it’ll insulate your water heater.
After fitting the jacket to your water heater, it’s time to insulate your home’s hot water pipes. You may find a few feet of hot water pipes around the heater itself. However, most hot water pipes will be located in your home’s crawl space. Although nobody likes spending time in crawl spaces, you should bite the bullet and insulate your pipes while you can.
Before visiting the next energy efficiency tip, turn your water heater’s temperature down to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Keeping your water temperature higher wastes energy and can lead to scalding when washing dishes or showering. On the other hand, dropping the water temperature below 120 degrees can encourage unwanted bacteria growth.
Consider a Geothermal Heat Pump
Although they’ve been around nearly as long as tank-type water heaters, geothermal heating systems aren’t as well-known as furnaces or air conditioners.
These systems can take care of your year-round heating and cooling needs, not to mention substantially reduce your energy consumption. Better yet, you probably won’t need to make major home renovations to make room for a geothermal heat pump.
As long as your home already has a central HVAC system, you can connect the heat pump to the home’s ductwork. If you can afford to install a geothermal heat pump in your home, don’t bother doing it yourself. Getting something wrong could lead to poor system performance or expensive repairs and requires extensive technical knowledge and equipment plus knowledge of the proper zoning and permitting for your region.
Rather, have a professional HVAC contractor like Beltway Air Conditioning & Heating of Hanover, Maryland, install it for you. Our NATE-certified technicians know the ins and outs of modern geothermal heat pumps. Here at Beltway Air Conditioning & Heating, our Marylander HVAC professionals take pride in doing jobs right the first time around.
Invest in an Energy Audit
It’s hard to know whether you’ve improved without a baseline to compare your performance to. You also won’t know whether your home is energy efficient or not. Investing in an energy audit is a great starting point for any energy efficiency project.
Many local and state government agencies offer these home energy assessments. You can also get them from qualified HVAC providers such as us, Beltway Air Conditioning & Heating of Hanover, Maryland.
Home energy audits look at things like your windows, insulation, locations where air is escaping your home, holes in your ducts, the age and efficiency of your appliances and the type of heat source that you’re using. In addition to energy efficiency ratings, you’ll receive personalized recommendations for improving your home’s energy efficiency.
Find and Seal Air Leaks
Although homes do a good job of insulating you from the outdoors, they’re still full of tiny gaps. These gaps allow air leaks to flow into your home, which makes your energy bills higher.
Unlike full-scale heat pump installation or performing a home energy assessment, locating and sealing air leaks is a project you can reasonably take on. Still, it never hurts to get help from a professional HVAC contractor like us for any heating and cooling project.
While air leaks can come from anywhere, common sources of air leaks include:
- Phone line, internet, and cable line entry points
- Wall outlets
- Gaps in foundations or brick walls
- Outdoor water faucets
- Window and door frames
The easiest way to close air leaks is by closing fireplace dampers or attic doors, for example. Of course, most leaks won’t be as easy to address.
Weatherstripping is ideal for sealing door and window frames. You can also use draft snakes, or rolled towels in a pinch, below doors to block drafts.
In general, you can use caulk to seal most remaining air leaks. Be careful to apply it carefully because excess caulk can look ugly. For best cosmetic results, find hardware stores with a wide range of caulk tones. Get clay-colored caulk for sealing holes in red brick, for example, and white or eggshell caulk for plugging up air leaks around wall outlets.
Get Some Newer Windows
Assuming they don’t shatter, windows can last many decades. Even if they don’t open well, it’s easy to put off window replacement.
If you’re serious about improving your old home’s energy efficiency, it’s time to buy some newer windows. As long as they have the Energy Star label, you don’t need to search for a specific brand. Make sure your new windows fit snug, too. Although you can temporarily compensate for small windows, they’ll eventually make way for major air leaks that’ll haunt you in the future.
Windows aren’t cheap. Gas-filled, two-ply or three-ply windows are the most efficient but are also the most expensive. High-quality windows can cost several hundred dollars per unit. Large picture windows can cost even more. Despite the cost, windows can save you more money than many other energy efficiency upgrades.
Before finishing your window replacement project, don’t forget to insulate them. This simple step can prevent air leaks from forming in the future, saving you worry and energy in the process.
Change Your Light Bulbs
Revamping your home’s energy efficiency isn’t entirely heating and cooling related. Changing light bulbs is a simple, effective way to reduce your home’s energy usage.
Compact fluorescent bulbs, also called CFLs, are the cheapest energy-efficient bulbs on the market. CFLs use less energy and last many times longer than traditional light bulbs. You can also replace your home’s light bulbs with LEDs. Light-emitting diodes cost much more than CFLs or incandescent bulbs but will save you more money in the long run because a single bulb uses less energy and can last 3-5 times longer than a CFL or incandescent bulb.
Whichever type of bulb you choose is up to you. Either way, you’ll save money on utilities and help the environment in the process.
If you’d like professional heating and cooling help, look no further than Beltway Air Conditioning & Heating of Hanover, Maryland. We also have another location in Annapolis, giving us easy access to clients across the Old Line State. Some of our many HVAC services include AC repair, furnace replacement, and all-around HVAC maintenance. For more information about our services, give us a call today!