Older homes can benefit greatly from energy efficiency upgrades. Many homeowners in Johnson County are taking steps to improve their homes to combat the rising heating and cooling costs in our local climate. Here are some large and small updates to consider as you plan your energy efficiency upgrade:
Insulation – Simply put, ensuring good quality insulation for the walls and the ceiling can keep the heat out in the summer and prevent the cold from creeping in during the winter. This can save you a lot of money on your energy bill, and especially in Kansas City, where temperature extremes can be observed throughout the year. One way to do this is by installing insulated vinyl siding which also provides foam insulation, bringing down cooling and heating costs.
Windows – The location of windows in your home plays a role in how energy efficient your home is, so if your budget does not include upgrading every window in the house, then at least select windows in certain locations where additional exposure to the elements is a concern. While letting the sunlight in can save on electric lighting, it can also let the heat in and increase your air conditioning bill. If a window is on the east side, it is first recommended that the blinds be up for the windows on the other side of the house and you let the sun in through the windows on the east side only if the other windows do not provide adequate natural lighting. Even then, the blinds can be adjusted to let in only as much light as you require. This holds true till noon. From afternoon onwards till sunset, try the same technique, but with the windows on the west side.
Replacing aluminum frames (for aluminum is a very good conductor of heat) with vinyl frames can achieve energy savings. Multiple window panes with argon gas in between them is also a good idea, as are tinted windows. The right amount of tint can work wonders in both winter and summer.
Appliances – The older ones consume a lot of energy. Getting newer, energy-efficient ones might be expensive, but the savings are bound to help you recover the cost of your additional investment.
For your refrigerator, you could adjust the thermostat to the energy-efficient setting, and do full loads when using your washing machine and dishwasher. Your water heater could also be turned to the warm range (120 – 140 °F). Unplugging your appliances instead of just turning them off when you go on vacation is another way to save on your electricity bill.
Lighting – It has been shown that CFL (compact fluorescent lamp) bulbs consume less energy. Even though they are more expensive, they last on an average ten times longer. If you cannot afford to have every incandescent bulb replaced, try doing it for the bulbs that are the most used in your house – you will still see your bill coming down.