How to Cut Energy Costs This Summer
Summer is just around the corner, and temperatures are already starting to rise. If you live in a relatively warm part of the country, you’re probably accustomed to high electricity bills in the summer thanks to how hard your air conditioning has to work. No matter what you do, your electricity bills will typically be higher in the summer, but they don’t have to be significantly higher. There are things you can do in your home to cut energy costs, even when it’s incredibly hot outside. Here are some of the things you should consider doing if you want to save energy and some extra money this summer:
1. Invest in a new thermostat – If you don’t have a digital thermostat, consider getting one. Older thermostats are generally not as good at measuring and regulating the temperature in your home. Additionally, digital thermostats that are programmable allow you to set how hard your air conditioner works during different parts of the day, minimizing how much energy is used to keep your house cool when you’re not around. Look for thermostats with the ENERGY STAR label because these will generally help you cut down energy expenses the most. Plus, these types of thermostats only cost around $40, so they’re not much of an investment.
2. Turn off all the lights when you leave – You probably already turn off most of the lights in your home before you leave your house. However, many people forget to turn off porch lights and lights in rooms like the bathroom and kitchen when they leave their home. Get into the habit of turning off all the lights in your house when you leave and when you go to bed. You may also want to unplug appliances and electronics before you leave or go to sleep. Appliances and electronics use up energy, even when they’re not running, if they’re still plugged in.
3. Get your insulation inspected – If your home isn’t properly insulated, your air conditioner has to work harder and use up more energy. Get a professional to come out and inspect your walls, windows, doors, floors, and ceiling to see if these areas are letting any heat into your home. If you’re home isn’t properly insulated, consider hiring someone to help you seal and insulate it or consider sealing and insulating problem areas yourself.
You’ll be amazed by how much cash you can save this summer if you try out the tips above. Taking the time to turn off all the lights in your home when you aren’t using them and investing in a new thermostat and better insulation can make a huge difference!
Author’s Bio: Ryan Franklin is a guest blogger who writes about home improvement, renovation, and cross country relocation with the help of cross country movers.
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Insulate around your windows with spray foam insulation
If you have completed a DIY (do-it-yourself) window replacement, without the help of an experienced contractor we hope you have not skipped an important step! One of the most important things you can do is insulate around the new window opening. This would be the space between the window frame and the stud wall framing.
In the past, this area was somewhat to difficult to properly insulate. Most contractors would "stuff" fiberglass insulation in these spaces in hopes to keep out, or at least slow air movement from the outside in. This insulating practice still occurs, and in fact, if properly done, can be an effective means in insulating around your windows. But, for many, it is difficult to fill the cavity being insulated without leaving some voids. However, there is a better product and one that has gained widespread-use among contractors and DIY'ers alike. Enter the advantages of spray foam insulation!
Spray foam insulation has become popular, not just for windows and doors, but as wall and ceiling insulation also. While there are many types on the market now, we will focus on the product that is available to everyone at almost every hardware and home improvement supply stores. Marketed as "Great Stuff" by Dow Chemical Corp. (http://building.dow.com/na/en/products/sealants/windowdoor.htm), this expandable foam sealant is great in sealing cracks in a wide variety of materials, including windows and doors. Visit the Dow Website at the link above for a description of the full line of spray foam insulations available. There are also similar products available from manufacturer's such as 3M and DAP, however some of these may be latex-based sealants, while Dow's great stuff is a closed-cell, polyurethane product. Consult Dow's website for more information on the benefits of using a closed-cell, polyurethane based spray foam product.
Prior to the introduction of specific types of spray foam for different applications, there was only one type of foam insulation available in a can. I can remember using this product and you had to be careful to not over-fill the cavity. The insulation would expand, in some cases too much, and push window frames out of plumb and out of square. With the introduction of spray foam, specific to window and door installations, the threat of this problem was eliminated. The window and door insulating foam has a special formula that does not expand as rapidly. It also cures "softer". As well, it can be sanded and painted if desired.
There are several advantages of spray foam insluation when compared to chinked or stuffed insulation in relation to insulating window and door frames. The biggest advantage is spray foam will expand to fill "nooks and crannies" in the opening. As mentioned above, it was always hard to tell whether or not you were reaching the back of the cavity with stuffed fiberglass. The opening needed to be firmly packed, which for fiberglass is not a good thing as fiberglass utilizes pockets of air between the fiberglass fibers to provide its insulating value.
Another advantage is spray foam insulation is not affected by water. It can "seal" out water even, just like a caulk. Also, since it is closed-cell, it will not take-on or absorb water. However, it is recommended that the exterior perimeter of windows and doors are caulked as a first line of defense from water intrusion. As well, the interior of your window or door perimeter should be caulked also. If not for aesthetics, it is again one more step you can take to stop air infiltration.
For those who have had old windows (especially those with old sash-weights) upgraded by replacement window sashes or pocket-type windows you want to verify that the old openings and weigh pockets have been insulated. Typically, you can access this pocket by removing the trim around your windows. Carefully pry the casing away with a stiff putty knife, or a special trim removal tool and check to be sure these cavities were filled with insulation. If they are missing insulation, or are insulated with fiberglass, you can insulate with polyurethan foam insulation. The, you can replace the trim, knowing you have properly insulated between the windows and the rough-opening framing. (see photo at right)
In summary, polyurethan spray foam insulation, typically purchased in cans from your local home improvement center, is a superior way to insulate openings around windows and doors. Although stuffed fiberglass insulation is acceptable, spray foam insulation has many advantages which will add to the comfort of your home. For questions, do not hesitate to consult a reputable Indianapolis area remodel contractor, such as Gettum Associates Inc. or feel free to ask your question to the Indianapolis Home Expert by clicking below: