Three Easy DIY Projects to Save Energy
By Abby Berry
Winter weather can have a big impact on your energy bills, hitting your pockets a little harder than you would like. Now that spring is just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to tackle a few do-it-yourself efficiency projects for your home. You don’t have to be an energy expert to do this.
There are several easy ways to save energy. If you’re willing to take a hands-on approach, here are three projects you can do now to start saving.
Make the Most of Your Water Heater
One of the easiest projects is insulating your water heater. Insulating a water heater that is warm to the touch can save 7 to 16 percent annually on your water heating bills. If your water heater is new, it is likely already insulated. But if your water heater is warm to the touch, it needs additional insulation.
You can buy a pre-cut jacket or blanket for about $20. You will also need two people for this project. Before you start, turn off the water heater. Wrap the blanket around the water heater and tape it to temporarily keep it in place. If necessary, use a marker to note the areas where the controls are so you can cut them out. Once the blanket is positioned correctly, tape it permanently in place, then turn the water heater back on. If you have an electric water heater, do not set the thermostat above 120 degrees, which can cause overheating.
Seal Air Leaks With Caulk
The average American family spends $2,000 annually on energy bills. Unfortunately, much of that money is wasted through air leaks in the home. Apply caulk around windows, doors, electrical wiring and plumbing to save energy and money.
There are many types of caulking compounds available, but the most popular choice is silicone. Silicone caulk is waterproof, flexible, and won’t shrink or crack. Before applying new caulk, clean and remove old caulk or paint with a putty knife, screwdriver, brush or solvent.
The area should be dry before you apply the new caulk. Apply the caulk in one continuous stream. Make sure it sticks to both sides of the crack or seam. Afterwards, use a putty knife to smooth out the caulk, then wipe the surface with a dry cloth.
Weatherstrip Exterior Doors
One of the best ways to seal air leaks is to weatherstrip exterior doors, which can keep out drafts and help you control energy costs. Weatherstripping materials vary. Ask your local hardware or home store for assistance if you are unsure about the supplies you need.
When choosing weatherstripping materials, make sure it can withstand temperature changes, friction and the general wear and tear for the location of the door. Keep in mind, you will need separate materials for the door sweep (at the bottom of the door) and the top and sides.
Before applying the new weatherstripping, clean the moulding with water and soap, then let the area dry completely. Measure each side of the door, then cut the weatherstripping to fit each section. Make sure the weatherstripping fits snugly against both surfaces so it compresses when the door is closed.
By completing these simple efficiency projects, you can save energy and money while increasing the comfort level of your home. And you can impress your family and friends with your savvy energy-saving skills.
Invest in Efficiency
- Set Water Heater to 120
- No Cost
- Save $73/yr
- Open Window Blinds in Winter; Close in Summer
- No Cost
- Save $35/yr
- Adjust Thermostat 1 Degree Down in Winter, 1 Degree Up in Winter
- No Cost
- Save $82/yr
1–5 Year Payback
- ENERGY STAR Clothes Washer
- Costs $194 extra
- Save $140/yr
- ENERGY STAR Refrigerator
- Costs $97 extra
- Save $100/yr
- Wrap Hot Water Tank
- Costs $85
- Save $23/yr
Long Term Investment
- Upgrade to ENERGY STAR Heat Pump (From 10 to 15 SEER)
- Costs $5,700
- Save $408/yr
Find more ways to save at Touchstone Energy® Cooperatives’ Together We Save website.
Source: U.S. Department of Energy Home Energy Saver, Touchstone Energy® Cooperatives. Based on national average savings; actual savings will vary by climate.