Make the Time, Part 3: Energy Efficiency in 48 Hours

Weekend warriors rejoice—there’s an awful lot you can do in 48 hours to improve your home’s energy efficiency. And why wouldn’t you? With a little time and some elbow grease, you can make improvements to your home that will save you money for years to come.

Here are three projects we’re confident you can knock out in a single weekend (while still having some time to yourself).

Project 1: Seal that Ceiling
Does it seem like we bring this up a lot? Good! When it comes to energy efficiency, your ceiling can either be a staunch ally, or your worst enemy. That’s because it represents a tremendous amount of square footage, and a few bad seals or a lack of insulation can seriously hamper your ability to keep the temperature under control.

But with 48 hours, you can do an awful lot to improve your outlook. First, start by making sure any ceiling cutouts are sealed around their perimeters. Ceiling fans, can lighting, and even air vents could be costing you energy. Check for cracks or gaps where these are fitted into the ceiling, and make sure they’re sealed.

Next, we advise getting up in your attic to take a look around. First, inspect the hatch itself—are there gaps around your attic access hatch that could be letting air circulate where it isn’t supposed to? After that, take a look at your attic’s insulation to make sure you’ve got enough. And if you’re not totally sure how to tell, we’ve got Energy Advisors that can help.

Project 2: Give Your HVAC Some TLC
Your heating and cooling system works hard hour after hour, day after day, to keep your home just the temperature you like it. So doesn’t your HVAC system deserve to be pampered? Now, while it might be a little tricky to take it out to a luxury spa, there are a few things you can do to show it some love.

First, we recommend you check and change the air filter. These should be changed every four to six weeks, but like a lot of routine maintenance tasks it tends to get pushed off. But regular filter changes help your HVAC run more efficiently, and puts it through less strain.

Next, if you have a gas-fired furnace, take a trip out to your local home supply store and pick up a programmable thermostat. There’s a whole range to choose from—basic models run as low as $25, but you can also go all out with a touchscreen-enabled thermostat that connects to an app on your phone (that one will run you closer to $200). But in either case, the idea is the same: Installing a programmable thermostat in your home allows you to have better control over heating and cooling, so you don’t waste energy running your HVAC at full strength when nobody’s home.

(If you’ve already got an efficient heat pump, you can set it and forget it. But if you don’t? We’ve got a rebate that can help solve that particular problem.)

Project 3: Here Come the Water Works
If you’ve got a free weekend, then you’ve got all the time you need to update your shower, faucets, and water heater to improve your home’s energy efficiency!

Let’s take your water heater first—the easiest, quickest thing you can do is check the temperature settings. The typical factory default setting is 140 degrees, but in practice you’ll be just as comfortable turning it down to 120 degrees—and you’ll save money. If you’re feeling more ambitious, we recommend installing an ENERGY STAR® heat pump water heater for even greater savings (and, if you do it by the end of 2016, a tax credit). You might want to consider bringing in some professional help for this one.

Once you’re squared away with the water heater, pick up a few low-flow showerheads and faucets from your local hardware store. Reducing the amount of hot water you use while washing dishes, clothes, or while taking showers is a great way to save electricity—and save money—on your water heating.

For more energy saving tips, or to get more information about our rebate programs, contact your Energy Advisor.