Are you shocked at your energy bill every month? You must’ve gone wrong somewhere, right?
Actually, you’re likely on par with most American families, which spend a whopping $2,000 a year on home energy. And most of it is due to wasted power through leaky windows and outdated heating and cooling systems, according to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).
The good news? A few simple energy-saving projects can stop the outflow of energy and dollars. No matter the season, these green DIY hacks can improve your home’s energy efficiency and shrink your bills in a snap.
Before replacing your old air conditioner, consider cost-effective ways to seal leaks where air can escape to keep your home cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Here’s a simple project you can do in a few hours: Craft a cover box for your attic stairs. A cover box insulates and seals in the air in your attic, and it costs about $50 to $100. You can buy a premade box or kit, or build your own using rigid foam board, faced blanket insulation, house wrap, caulk, foam insulation and plywood. Follow the DOE’s lead.
Storm window installation is an affordable way to upgrade inefficient windows rather than replacing them. Get more bang for your buck with low-emissivity (low-e) storm windows, which are made with a thin, almost invisible metal coating that reflects infrared heat into the home and improves its insulation. Just as good for your bottom line as replacing the entire window, low-e windows can save you anywhere from 12 to 33 percent, or $120 to $330 on a $1,000 annual heating and cooling bill, estimates the DOE.
An even more frugal option that can yield the same effect is to insulate your windows with bubble wrap packing material cut to fit each window. Bubble wrap is often used to insulate greenhouses and can be used to keep your home warm, too. The bubble wrap can easily be taken down when guests come over, or whenever you want to take in the view.
Keeping your backyard pool at a comfortable temperature can be expensive, but there are several environmentally and budget-friendly tricks to saving money on heating a pool.
First, start with a pool cover, which is the best way to reduce your pool heating costs. A pool cover can raise the pool water temperature by 10 degrees Fahrenheit and lower your summertime pool heating costs by as much as 90 percent, notes the California Energy Commission. And while a pool cover may reduce solar heat loss to a certain degree, it also minimizes evaporation, which is the main culprit of energy loss.
A professionally installed solar pool heating system would run you between $3,000 and $4,000 — and you’ll earn your money back in anywhere from 1.5 to 7 years — but your savings depend on the local fuel costs, climate and location of your pool. You can also create a DIY solar pool heater with simple materials such as a photovoltaic (PV) module and black landscaping tubing, or make your own solar rings out of hula hoops and polyethylene film. However, don’t install your own solar panels — that’s a job best left to the pros.
It’s easy to be green and save money while you’re at it with alternative energy and green DIY projects that work. Do an energy audit to assess where you’re wasting energy and find new ways to improve your home’s energy efficiency, or harness the power of renewable energy sources.