3 ways to boost energy efficiency and comfort at home

Many people live in homes built with little thought given to saving energy. Fortunately, there are many ways to improve hour home to make it more efficient and cosier. Here are three of them.

3 ways to boost energy efficiency and comfort at home

1. Plug up any holes, cracks or openings

  • Gaps between roofing and masonry
  • Heat loss through gaps between walls and eaves
  • Cracks at corners of clapboard
  • Poorly insulated walls
  • Cracks where wood ­structure meets foundation
  • Poorly caulked access points for service pipes and cables
  • Poorly insulated roof
  • Heat loss from open or loose-­fitting damper in unused fireplace

Doors:

  • Loss of warm, internal air from too frequent opening of door
  • Gaps between wall and door frame
  • Loose fit of door to sill, lintel and jambs
  • Air passage through old-fashioned keyholes
  • Open or loose-fitting garage door

Windows:

  • Heat loss through window glass
  • Loose-fitting sashes
  • Unlocked windows, incompletely shut
  • Gaps between wall and window frame
  • Uncurtained windows
  • Cracked panes, loose putty

2. Insulate any pipes, ducts and heaters

Pipes connected to a hot-water system often waste heat in cold-climate winters, particularly when connected to distant taps.

  • Wrap pipes with one- to 1.5-centimetre-thick (1/2- to 3/4-in-thick) fibreglass and seal with plastic tape, or else install ready-to-use foam-type insulating tubes with self-sealing aluminium backing
  • Exposed heating and air-conditioning ducts below floors or above ceilings raise fuel bills unnecessarily. To cut down on the waste, first seal joints and other leaky spots with aluminium-foil tape or vinyl tape. Then cover ducts with five centimetres (two inches) of blanket-type fibreglass or similar insulation
  • Hot-water heaters can waste fuel all year round. You can insulate with five-centimetre-thick (two-inch-thick) fibreglass with a vinyl outer coating. Wrap the entire heater except for the bottom and controls. Insulation kits are available that can be trimmed to size

3. Pick colours and ventilation systems suitable for your area

The exterior colour of a house can affect its energy efficiency

  • In a hot, dry climate, roofs should have a light colour that will reflect sunlight more effectively than a dark colour
  • Effective reflection reduces the amount of heat entering the roof space and finding its way down into the living areas
  • An interior structure that is intended to provide thermal mass, such as a masonry wall or a concrete slab, will help brighten a room in winter if it is light in colour
  • Alternatively, dark roofs help keep a house warm inside
  • In warm, humid regions, helpful modifications can be made to dwellings whether they are air conditioned or not
  • Install exhaust fans in the roof space and use a hedge, fence or even casement windows to help direct prevailing breezes towards the interior
  • Houses that are not air conditioned will benefit from the installation of overhead fans

From minor improvements like adding curtains to more ambitious projects like repainting your house, there are plenty of opportunities to increase your home's energy efficiency, and with it the comfort of your family.

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