I spend a fair amount of my time as a building scientist helping building owners identify ways to improve their building envelop to improve thermal comfort, indoor air quality, moisture management and energy efficiency for their occupants.  The same tools can be used to improve these things in the home.  No matter how old the home, seals can break and tightness can loosen.  It’s easy for us to forget some basic things that we can do to improve energy efficiency in our homes.

To begin, here are five tips that you can put into play today to improve energy efficiency in your home.

How to Improve the Energy Efficiency of Any Home

Your attic can be one of the biggest wasters of energy, make sure it is properly sealed before temperatures rise.

  1. Improve your attic performance. Before summer makes it too hot to go up there, get into your attic and seal the holes in the attic floor. Move back insulation over recessed lights and over interior walls to look for the holes.  Use a water -based expanding foam to seal up all the holes and then push back the insulation.  Finally, check any exposed ductwork to ensure all joints are well sealed.  Then, after making sure the attic ventilation is not blocked at the soffits, add more insulation to the attic floor.  Cover all exposed floor joints and any exposed ductwork you can.  To complete the job, insulate and gasket the access door or panel to the attic.
  1. Replace any major equipment or appliances more than 20 years old. Seriously, I know it’s green to make stuff last but the energy efficiency of older equipment undoes that philosophy.  A new furnace or water heater will not only use less energy, it will most likely also improve your indoor air quality (new high efficiency equipment is direct vent with dedicated make-up air so less indoor air pollution!)
  1. Consider replacing all lighting, especially high intensity spot lights or outdoor lighting, with LED. Present bulb technology allows you to keep the same fixtures and wiring (just do us a favor and make sure no outdoor lighting is pointing up or out to reduce light pollution.)

Use ceiling fans and air conditioning in combination for greater effect.

  1. Always use a ceiling or other fan when running air conditioning. As we enter the warmer months, keep this in mind. The sensation of air moving across your skin will allow you to set the AC at a higher temp and still feel comfortable.
  1. Consider exterior shading as opposed to interior sun control when trying to stay cool. For the most part, whatever you use to block the sun is going to get warm so place it on the outside of the home and not in the room with you.

Have you tried any of these recommendations? Did you notice a difference?