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7 Home Maintenance Tips That Eliminate Energy Wasters

Is your home needlessly increasing your utility bills? Without the proper maintenance, even a newer home can become less energy efficient. In addition to basic DIY upkeep, consider adding a few of these energy-saving projects to your to-do list.

Keep Up-to-Date on the Latest Electricity Offers

One of the easiest ways to reduce your energy costs if you live in a deregulated area is to regularly check the latest electricity offers. The cost to produce electricity fluctuates, which means that the wholesale and consumer prices can change from one day to the next.

For example, right now in Texas, StarTex is offering standard and green energy plans with rates as low as 7.5 cents per kilowatt-hour. Tomorrow that rate could go up or down, but when you see a price you like you can sign up for service and lock in a low rate with a fixed plan.

Seal Around Doors

Doors are going to let air in and out every time they’re opened, but they could also leak air even when they’re closed. There are three ways to seal around doors to the outside:

  • ·  Weatherstripping – This inexpensive, slim strip of foam only takes a minute to install around the inside of the doorframe. One side of the strip has an adhesive that sticks the frame and holds tight. All you have to do is line it up.

  • ·  Caulk – If there are any cracks and air leaks around the doorframe it can easily be sealed with caulk.

  • ·  Door sweep – Most doors don’t sit perfectly flush with the ground. Instead of letting air seep out add a door sweep.

Unfortunately, this isn’t a one and done fix. Due to wear and tear, the sealing around the doors will need to be checked at least once a year.

Seal Around Window

Windows are another spot where air can flow in and out, sometimes unintentionally. Can you rattle the windows? If so, air is leaking out somewhere. In addition to making sure that windows shut tightly, check around the edges of the frames for light coming in. Anywhere you see light there’s an air leak that can be sealed with caulk.

Gaps and Cracks Around the Walls

Air leaks can also be hidden in spots along the wall. Check for gaps and cracks in these areas:

  • ·  Electric outlets

  • ·  Light switches

  • ·  Baseboards

  • ·  Cable and telephone lines

  • ·  Vents

Basically anywhere there is a break in the drywall there could be an air leak if outlets, faceplates, etc. aren’t anchored down.

Replace the Attic Insulation

If you added insulation to the attic years ago it’s probably time to add more. Over time, insulation that is blown in will settle and leave areas exposed. You’ll also need to replace the installation if it ever gets wet because mold can form.

If you’re adding or replacing insulation it’s important to choose an appropriate R-value. This is the measure for how well the material resists heat flow, and the minimum R-value varies depending on the region you live in. Types of insulation include:

  • ·  Rigid foam

  • ·  Rolls and batts

  • ·  Foam-in-place

  • ·  Loose fill

A radiant barrier is also another good option for insulating your attic. It’s a reflective material that keeps radiant heat that builds up on the roof out of the attic.

Service the HVAC System

HVAC systems are real workhorses that are made up of many components that need regular maintenance. If not, the energy efficiency can be reduced by as much as 25%. This project may be best for a professional who knows how to clean out the equipment and how to identify potential problems. Another thing that an HVAC professional can do is add refrigerant if needed so that the system cools properly.

The ductwork will also need to be checked for leaks, crimps and spots that need cleaning. One thing that homeowners can easily take care of is cleaning or switching out the air filters every two months.

Clean Out the Water Heater

Over time, sediments can build up in your water heater. This collection of minerals, debris and sand at the bottom can reduce the efficiency and shorten the lifespan of your equipment. Draining the water heater to clean out the sediment is a relatively easy task.

  • ·  Turn off the water and electricity or gas depending on the water heater model. Let the water heater cool off.

  • ·  Turn on the hot water in one of your bathtubs to prevent vacuuming in the lines.

  • ·  Connect a hose to the drain at the bottom of the water heater.

  • ·  Run the hose into a large bucket.

  • ·  Open the drain to allow water out.

  • ·  Look to see if the water that is drained into the bucket is clear or contains sediment. If there’s sediment or dirty water continue to drain the water heater until the water runs clear.

  • ·  Close the drain and remove the hose.

  • ·  Turn off the hot water tap you opened earlier.

  • ·  Turn the water supply back on and refill the tank.

  • ·  Once the tank is filled you can turn the electricity and/or gas back on.

To get maximum efficiency, flush out the water heater once a year. If it’s 15 years or older you may want to consider replacing it with a new, much more efficient model.

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