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Energy Efficiency

DIY Energy-Saving Ideas

Home improvement projects can cut energy costs

Do you love watching home improvement shows? Do you find yourself tackling projects on your own every weekend? If you answered yes to either of these questions, then you will love these do-it-yourself energy-saving ideas.

Insulate your electric water heater tank. Unless you have a new model, your water heater tank is probably not insulated. All you need is an insulation blanket and a friend to help you hold it in place. First, turn off your water heater and measure it carefully. Cut the insulation blanket to fit the tank, then wrap it around, temporarily taping it into place. Once it’s secure, cut out holes for the control panels to fit through, then tape the blanket permanently in place. This project can reduce standby heat losses 25–45 percent.

Seal air leaks. When you have tiny air leaks around your windows and doors, hot air can make its way into your house during the summer, and cool air can come in during the winter, forcing your heating and cooling system to work harder. To fix this, buy a caulking gun and caulk. Clean the area thoroughly, removing any old, cracked caulking. Hold the caulking gun at a 45-degree angle and release the caulk while moving the gun smoothly from one side of the door or window to the other. If the caulk does not make it all the way into the gap, use a spoon or other utensil to push it in before it dries. After you have caulked the perimeter of the door or window, clean up any spills and you’re done.

Install window film. If you have a bigger budget for home improvements, consider replacing windows with Energy Star models, but if you don’t, then installing window film is a great alternative. Window film blocks the sun’s heat from coming indoors. Curtains and blinds also can help prevent heat from getting into your home, but you have to close them to reap the benefits. With window film, you don’t have to lose your view to start saving energy.

Plant for savings. Another great way to save on your heating and cooling bills is to plant more trees around your home. Plant deciduous trees on the west side of a house to provide cooling shade in the summer and allow warming daylight in the winter when they lose their leaves. Plant evergreens on the north side of your home to block icy winter winds. Trees, shrubs and ground cover plants also can shade the ground and pavement around the home, reducing heat radiation. Use a large bush or row of shrubs to shade a patio or driveway. Plant a hedge to shade a sidewalk. Build a trellis for climbing vines to shade a patio area. Remember to think about the tree’s full-grown size and shape before you dig, and never plant trees near power lines. Properly placed trees around your home can reduce energy costs by up to 30 percent.