When I was a kid I can remember some of the issues that we faced with our old home. It was a great house but it was not what you would call energy efficient. It was drafty, cold in the winters, hot in the summer, and overall an energy black hole. You might have the same issues now with the home you live in. There are things that you can do to help your home become more energy efficient. While this might seem like an odd topic for a prepper, the whole idea of survival is taking full advantage of the items that are around you. There is nothing more valuable, monetarily speaking, than your home. So why not take care of it?
Some of the issues that my childhood home had were very simple. The windows did not seal well, the floor was not insulated well, the door seals did not touch, and the heat pump was old. All of these are very simple fixes but they all require money. We did not have an abundance of cash so we simply made due with what we had. But if you have the means to fix these items then you need to. So let’s look at the average home and take it step-by-step.
The average American home has two doors that lead outside. Some have more and some have less, but overall there is a front door and a backdoor. The kind of door that you have will determine the efficiency rating. Solid wood doors are the norm. Wood is a decent insulator and it is very strong. Metal doors are even stronger but they are not as good at insulating.
The best way to help make your doors more energy efficient is to make sure that the doorframe is properly sealed with commercial grade sealant such as silicone. Also, make sure that the door has a rubber seal around the outer edge. If this seal is not present then you will be able to see light and feel air moving through the gaps. Finally, make sure that the door has a “sweep” that closes off the bottom gap.
Older homes, like the one I grew up in and like the one I live in now, are notorious for having drafty windows. It is not good when the curtains move as the wind blows. So what can you do about this? The first option is to simply replace the old, metal, storm windows. Replacing these windows with a vinyl window will make a huge difference. Not only will it look better but it will increase your efficiency by 70%.
Another option is to silicone around the outer edges of the windows. This is less expensive. However the issue here is that over time you will need to do this again and again. You could also choose to paint your windows shut. While this is not the best idea, it is perhaps the easiest option of all. This will not affect the issues related with poor sealant usage on the outer edges of the windows.
These are areas of the home that receive the least amount of attention. Sure we walk on the floors and store items in the attic, but overall we give them very little thought. But these are some of the biggest wasters of energy in the home. During a typical summer, the attic of your home can reach temperatures of 130 degrees. During the winter the attic can be as cold as the outside air. If your attic is not properly insulated then all of this hot and cold air is going to be making your heat pump run longer. Your attic needs to have a minimum of 12 inches of insulation at all times.
Your floor is another energy hazard. Ever woke up in the morning and pressed your feet to a cold floor? If so then you are the victim of a poorly insulated floor. The floor should not be cold. Cool is ok but cold is bad. The floor of your home was probably built with trusses. These trusses have a recess built in to hold insulation. If it is not there, or if it has fallen out, then you are losing energy at an alarming rate.
Now we come to some of the biggest energy users in the house. Items such as a stove, oven, microwave, dishwasher, and the television are notorious for using and wasting copious amounts of energy. So how can you combat this? You could limit your usage of these items or you could simply replace them with more energy efficient models. We have a stovetop here at home that is 30 years old. One burner is broken and the others take a while to heat up. I need to replace it.
Every new appliance is forced to meet certain energy requirements. The days of buying poor appliances is really over. They all must meet certain requirements and this makes all new appliances more energy efficient.
My pet peeve is when my kids leave the lights on in a room that is empty. The same could be said for the television, but that is another story. Anyway, try leaving your lights off during the day. If the sun is out then why not open the drapes and take advantage of the natural light? If you must have the lights on, try using energy efficient bulbs.
What steps do you take to insure that your home is energy efficient?