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5 Do’s and Don’ts for an Energy-Efficient Home

Energy-Efficient Home - TaxACT

Fall will be here before we know it, which means higher energy bills are only a few months away. Fortunately, while the weather is still warm, there are a variety of home improvements you can do now to save money this winter.

But, before you break out the hammer and nails, keep in mind not all energy-efficient improvements are equal.

Here are some home do’s and don’ts to help you get the most from your energy-saving efforts.

Don’t: Replace computer monitors, newer refrigerators and similar items hoping to save electricity.

Do: Replace refrigerators made before 1993. Turn off refrigerators you don’t really need.

New appliances are more efficient than the ones our parents and grandparents bought years ago.

However, most appliances made in the last 20 years are fairly equal in their efficiency. Therefore, you don’t need the newest and latest model in order to save energy. In fact, if you lay out the cash for a new model, it’ll be hard to break even on just the energy savings.

Additionally, computer monitors use very little energy per day. If you’re worried about energy, simply turn them off when you’re not using them.

Don’t: Insulate the walls – in most cases.

Do: Insulate the attic.

It can cost a small fortune to add more insulation because the inside of your walls are hard to get to.

Only think about adding insulation to the walls if your house has no insulation or if you plan to install new siding.

Instead, cut costs by adding insulation to the attic.

Not only is it easier to access the attic, but because heat rises, this is likely where you’re losing the most heat out of your house.

Don’t: Let your heat go up the chimney opening.

Do: Block chimney drafts.

Does it feel a little drafty around the fireplace? Your heat could be going straight up and out of the chimney.

Even if you use the fireplace to warm your house, it will never make up for a constant draft in the room.

As a solution, you can get a fireplace urethane pillow specifically made to block drafts. An even cheaper option is to re-purpose an old cushion to stop the heat from being sucked up the chimney.

The chimney isn’t the only place you can lose heat. Check for drafts all over your house. A small draft is like having a door cracked open.

If you find one, get out the caulking gun, weather stripping or other draft stopping tools to fix the problem.

Don’t: Neglect boring maintenance chores.

Do: Change your furnace filter.

Depending on the pet hair, dust and other things floating in your home air, your filters can clog up once a month.

When that happens, your energy efficiency dramatically decreases. To solve this problem, pick up a few furnace filters – they are fairly cheap.

Plus by changing the filter out regularly, you can breathe easier, too.

Don’t: Get new windows unless yours are very, very old.

Do: Get out the caulking gun.

Check around your windows and doors. If you feel any drafts, block them with new caulking or weather stripping. The cost is nominal, and it should save you a lot of money when the temperatures drop.

Small drafts around your house are almost like having no doors at all. It’s amazing how much heat gets away!

The only time you should replace windows for energy-saving purposes is if you have old, single-pane windows.

 

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About Sally Herigstad

Sally Herigstad is a certified public accountant and personal finance columnist and author of Help! I Can't Pay My Bills, Surviving a Financial Crisis (St. Martin's Griffin). She writes regularly at CreditCards.com, Bankrate.com, Interest.com, RedPlum, and MSN Money. She is an experienced speaker and a member of Toastmasters International. Follow Sally on Twitter.