Living in a climate with fluctuating temperatures really makes you thankful for modern developments over the years that allow us to maintain a comfortable climate despite what may be going on outside. However, we’ve all seen the cost of this comfort on our monthly utility bills making you ask questions like, why is my electric bill so high? While the weather outside often determines when we run our heating and air conditioning, making sure you are doing everything you can to reduce the burden on your systems will also help lower your average electric bill or heating bill as you make your home more energy efficient.
Two of the primary things that you can do to make your home more energy efficient involve insulation and air sealing. There are several types of insulation to choose from with various pros and cons, but at the end of the day, we want to ensure you have the proper amounts and that it is well-installed. Air sealing is another method to prevent you from letting that costly air inside slip through the cracks creating drafts and reducing indoor comfort. Read on to hear how we can team up with you to ensure you’re putting your dollars into the right place to maximize efficiency!
Understanding How Insulation & Air Sealing Works
Let’s start with why we need insulation in the first place which is because of the way that heat flows. Although we can’t see it happening, the air is always moving in a way to balance out temperature meaning that heat moves to areas that are colder. Within a house, this works against our desire to keep a comfortable temperature inside either because it is warm outside and we are trying to keep cool air inside or vice versa, it is cold outside and we are trying to keep warm air inside. To keep outdoor and indoor environments separate, we insulate and seal as much as possible in order to prevent this heat transfer. This concept applies to all sides of your home, but one of the most common areas where improvements can be made is in your attic.
Types of Attic Insulation
When it comes to the types of insulation used in attics, there is no shortage of options that offer solutions for different circumstances. Some of the most common types are loose fill insulation (cellulose insulation, fiberglass insulation, or mineral wool insulation) which is blown into the attic space, batt insulation, spray foam insulation, and several others. You can read more about these and more here.
Common Air Leaks
In addition to heat always looking to move to colder areas, it will also always follow the path of least resistance. This means that not only will it move through a poorly insulated wall or ceiling, but it will travel even quicker through gaps and cracks where there is no barrier at all. One of the most obvious symptoms of an air leak or lack of air sealing is a cold draft entering your home in the winter in which case heated air is rushing out of the home and being replaced by cold air from outside. While there are many different types of air leaks, a simple visual inspection can help identify more obvious ones whether that be through poor or lack of weather stripping around doors and windows, gaps in between siding, can lights housed in the attic, or a poorly sealed attic hatch. A more thorough method of identifying these leaks can be found through a blower door test to reveal more of these leaks that are not always visible or felt. Once these are identified, we can go about finding the right solution to properly seal these and keep that costly air inside!
How Improvements Can Lower Your Average Electric Bill & Other Benefits
In the US, it isn’t uncommon for homeowners to spend $200 or more per month on heating and cooling their homes. After all, home should be a place that is comfortable so we want to maintain those comfortable temperatures, but also find more efficient ways to do so. According to the EPA, homeowners can likely save an average of 15% of their heating and cooling bills by adequately insulating attics and other spaces as well as air sealing. Just like any other investment you would make, we are interested in the return on investment for taking these steps to improve the efficiency of your home. Let’s walk through a simple example.
Impact on Your Average Electric Bill
Let’s say that your average cost per month for utilities is $200 and that heating and cooling represent 75% of that cost. On average then, you are spending $150 per month or $1,800 per year to heat and cool your home. Using a savings of 15% after making insulation and air sealing improvements would yield $22.50 per month or $270 per year. When you compare these savings with the investment of blown-in insulation cost which can vary based on the size and levels of insulation required, the project typically pays for itself within a few years and even quicker for more drastic improvements. It’s not every day you come across a guaranteed return on investment!
While reducing utility costs is often the driver of looking into making energy efficiency improvements in a home, there are several other benefits that come along with saving money in the short and long run. One of the other financial benefits we often see is reduced strain on the home’s heating and cooling systems. The better that your home keeps the conditioned air inside and blocks outside air from coming in, the less your systems will need to run which leads to less maintenance and a longer lifespan. As these appliances can cost around $8,000 to replace, extending their life can be another great way to save money over time.
If you are looking to sell your home in the future, making these improvements can also be a great selling point to potential buyers. Not only will we ensure that your home is up to date with the latest code requirements regarding R-values (more on that here), but taking these steps is often a sign to buyers that you as a homeowner have cared for your home well and have set it up for optimal energy efficiency for the future. If you are a homeowner, you know the stress of the home-buying process and also the relief it brings when you know the prior owner has taken adequate steps to ensure a safe and efficient home.
In addition to these, taking steps to properly insulate and seal your home can also bring health benefits as external air with any pollutants or allergens is kept out of the home, reduction of noise outside of the home, and moisture reduction, among others. We’d love to talk more with you about how you specifically may benefit from taking some of these steps. Each case is different and we look forward to seeing how we can partner together to reach your optimal solution.
Properly caring for your home and addressing opportunities for insulation and air sealing go
a long way when looking at how to lower your electric bill and capture some of the other benefits. While we can all probably agree making these improvements are a step in the right direction, we also know there are many decisions to arrive at the best solution for you and your home. Whether that is determining the best attic insulation for you (i.e. blown-in cellulose vs fiberglass, spray foam insulation, etc.) or knowing where and how much you need, our specialists are here to help guide you through those decisions. Let us know how we can help!