By Garrett Keiser
Spring brings renewal — and new opportunities to save energy and money. You may think energy efficiency upgrades require a great deal of time and expense, but that’s not always the case.
If you’re interested in making your home more efficient but don’t want to break the bank, there are several DIY projects you can tackle to increase energy savings. Let’s take a look at three inexpensive efficiency upgrades that can help you save energy throughout the year.
Trim dryer vent
Level of difficulty: easy. Supplies needed: tin snips, gloves, measuring tape and masking tape. Estimated cost: about $25.
If your dryer vent hose between the dryer and the wall is too long, your dryer is working harder than it has to, using more energy than necessary. The vent hose should be long enough for you to pull the dryer out a couple feet from the wall, but the shape of the hose should form a line — it should not have a lot of slack, with twists and curves. A shorter, unobstructed vent hose increases the efficiency of your dryer, dries clothing faster and reduces lint buildup, which can create potential fire hazards.
Simply measure, mark and trim the hose to the desired length, then reattach the hose to your dryer and exterior vent. If you’re unsure about the hose length, check out YouTube.com for a quick video tutorial.
Seal air leaks
Level of difficulty: moderate. Supplies needed: caulk and caulk gun, weather stripping, gloves, putty knife, paper towels. Estimated cost: $25 to $50.
Sealing air leaks in your home can help you save 10% to 20% on heating and cooling bills. Apply caulk around windows, doors, electrical wiring and plumbing to seal in conditioned air. You should also weather strip exterior doors, which can keep out drafts and help you control energy costs.
Types of caulking and weather stripping materials vary, but ask your local hardware or home store for assistance if you’re unsure about the supplies you need.
For more information, the Department of Energy provides step-by-step instructions for caulking and weather stripping on their website, www. energy.gov.
Insulate attic opening
Level of difficulty: moderate. Supplies needed (if you build the box yourself): rigid foam board, faced blanket insulation, tape for foam board, measuring tape, utility knife, caulk and caulk gun, plywood. Estimated cost: $50 to $100.
A properly insulated attic is one of the best ways to optimize energy savings and comfort in your home, but many homeowners don’t consider insulating the attic stairs, or the opening to your attic space. Even a well-insulated attic can leak air through the stair opening, but luckily, there’s an easy fix.
An insulated cover box can seal and insulate the attic stairs opening. You can build your own insulated cover box or purchase a pre-built box or kit from a local home improvement store like Home Depot or Lowe’s for about $60. It should also be noted, if your attic opening is in a garage that you do not heat and cool, this upgrade will not be as effective.
Saving energy doesn’t have to be hard. With a little time and effort, you can maximize energy savings and increase the comfort of your home. To learn about additional ways to save, contact Garrett Keiser at Heartland REMC.