Rain, snow or shine, it’s never a bad idea to check the coverage and quality of insulation in your home.
There is no better way to save on your energy bills whether they’re for heating your home during the cold months or cooling it down with air-con during long, hot summers.
The key phrase to know when assessing your insulation is “R-Value” – the optimal value depends on whether we’re talking about walls, floors and roofs.
Typically, you’ll want insulation for an exterior wall that has an R-value of R-13 to R-23. For ceilings, you’ll want R-30, R-38 or R-40. If you go on to the Department of Energy, you’ll get some great information on recommended ratings.
Most insulation is relatively cheap, although you will find products made from recycled materials, plus high-tech European solutions created for Arctic winters, that are more expensive.
The most popular variety of insulation is the batt, also known as bulk insulation. These use materials such as fiberglass, wool, a volcanic rock known as rock wool, polyester, recycled plastic and polystyrene.
Other products available include insulation panels, reflective sheets and spray-foam. For most homes in our neighborhood, bulk insulation with a higher R-Value will get the job done.
Investing in insulation will not cause a direct increase in home value, though this work will show up on your utility bills which proves that your home is sealed and insulated correctly, thus decreasing the expenses of your home which will increase your homes value when compared to the home down the road.
Here are a few more tips to decrease the eco-footprint of your home and save on your utilities.
Undertake an energy audit – If you want to be water-tight, use a consultant to assess where you can save energy and money. Most power companies will be able to recommend a contractor, in Fort Collins, contact the city about the EPIC program.
Install solar power – This is a big-ticket item, but it will not only reduce your power bill make your home more attractive to buyers when it’s time to sell.
Service your HVAC system – If you keep this in good order, you’ll reduce your costs and possibly extend the life of your furnace.
Turn down the thermostat – Don’t set and forget. You can drop it by five degrees with no inconvenience when your home is empty. That can save you more than 10% on your annual power bill.
Seal doors and windows – Weatherstrips in hardware stores are cheap. And if you seal them tight, you’ll stop any rattling when it’s windy. Also, check for other gaps and crevices, and seal them with silicon using a caulking gun. This is a quick and easy DIY task.
Minimize the use of space heaters – They get the job done quickly but suck up the juice. Reverse cycle air-con is more efficient. If you’re ambitious and have the budget, look at under-floor heating solutions.
Replace shower heads – You can halve your water consumption in the shower by using low-flow shower-heads. Staggeringly, if you stand in a shower for 1 minute, that’s five gallons down the drain.
Cold washes – Not for you, of course, but for your clothes. A washing machine will use 90% of its entire power requirement if it has to heat the water it needs.
Throw out old-school light bulbs – Manufacturers are phasing these out in favor of halogens, LEDs (light-emitting diode) and CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps).
Unplug your charger – It’s hard to believe but energy analysis suggests that chargers left in the wall could be responsible for 10% of your energy consumption. Holy cow, that’s a lot of power to leak!
Start a compost bin – You can rot down your vegetable scraps and use it for fertilizer on your garden. It will dramatically reduce the amount of trash each week. Check out this amazing how-to guide, it's where we got started.
Energy-efficient homes are in high demand, especially among younger buyers. When it comes time to sell, this is a facet of your home I would emphasize.