What are the best winter energy-efficiency upgrades to make to your home this winter?

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Winter is finally here. As the nights and mornings start getting colder, many homeowners are turning on the furnace or heat pump to keep things warm and toasty. However, if your heater or home is inefficient, you could end up paying for this winter comfort on your next utility bill. The colder months of the year are actually the perfect time to make energy-efficiency upgrades to your home.

In this article, we will review the benefits of efficiency upgrades, the best changes to make, and how a home energy audit from our team is a great place to start.

Start with a home energy audit

For many homeowners, the single-largest impediment to starting home energy-efficiency upgrades is knowing where to start. After all, every home is different: in one home, the biggest energy savings can be realized by adding attic insulation. In contrast, in a different home, additional insulation might not be all that effective.

This is why you should start with a professional home energy audit. During an audit, an energy professional will assess your home and give you a complete breakdown—backed by measurements and data—of where your home is wasting the most energy. You can then take these recommendations and take action.

At Southern Air, our team offers professional-grade home energy audits from certified and experienced energy specialists. If you’re looking to improve the energy efficiency of your Lafayette, Jeanerette, or New Iberia home, call us today to schedule service.

If you're looking to make energy-efficiency upgrades to your home, adding attic insulation is a great place to start.

If you’re looking to make energy-efficiency upgrades to your home, adding attic insulation is a great place to start.

Add insulation

As everyone no doubt remembers from high school, heat rises. In the winter, the heat generated for your home by your furnace or heat pump will rise through the ceiling and attic and out of the home. This means that your heater has to work hard to keep up with the near-constant loss of heat, putting additional strain on the system and increasing your energy costs. You can help prevent this loss of heat by adding sufficient insulation to your attic.

Here in South Louisiana, we’re in Zone 2, which means you should:

  • Add R30-R60 rated insulation to an attic with no existing insulation.
  • Add R25-R38 rated insulation to an attic with 3-4 inches of existing insulation.

You should consult this map from ENERGY STAR to learn more about how much additional insulation you should add. Of course, we also recommend you call our team to schedule your home energy audit, as we can provide you with detailed information about the state of both your attic and wall insulation.

Seal ductwork leaks

As time passes, your home’s air ducts shift, move, and start to develop holes and cracks. As the heated air from your furnace or heat pump is forced through them, a good percentage of it (as much as 30%!) is lost in transit, with the heat never reaching the living spaces of your home. As a result, your heater has to work that much harder to change the temperature in your living room, kitchen, or bedroom. This means wasted energy and higher bills.

One of the ways you can curb this excessive loss of energy is by sealing your ducts. You’ll need to close any holes or cracks while also looking for parts of the ducts that are separating away from one another. We recommend using duct mastic—not duct tape—for this job. Of course, if you have questions or need help from an energy-savings professional, give us a call.

Schedule a heating tune-up

If you haven’t already, you should have one of our technicians inspect and tune up your heating system this winter. Annual maintenance is crucial if you want to keep your furnace or heat pump working properly. Not only can a professional tune-up help you avoid a breakdown this winter, but our NATE-certified technicians will also ensure that your system is working as effectively and efficiently as possible. That means you get a more comfortable home and lower energy bills.

If you want to make your home more energy-efficient this winter, a tune-up is a good place to start. A heating system that is running inefficiently and hasn’t been maintained is most likely going to negate any other efficiency upgrade you make to your home.

Seal around your doors and windows

As we’ve discussed, the key to better energy-efficiency in the winter is keeping cold air out and warm air inside the home. Beyond adding insulation and sealing your ducts, you should also take a look at your windows and doors. In many cases, gaps between the door and its frame can allow colder air to get in and your heated air to escape, negatively impacting your home’s energy efficiency. With your windows, this heat transfer can also occur through the glass itself, since single-pane glass—unlike a heavy door or your insulated walls—is a relatively poor insulator.

Our recommendation? Identify places where hot air is escaping from your home in the winter. Then, use weatherstripping and caulk to seal off these gaps. Foam tape weatherstripping is relatively inexpensive and easy to find at your local hardware store. For less than $50, you should be able to completely seal around your windows and doors. This is an efficiency upgrade that will quickly pay for itself.

Install a programmable thermostat

Programmable thermostats are more popular than ever. Also commonly known as “smart thermostats,” these devices represent a major upgrade over the traditional dial or digital thermostat. Programmable thermostats, as the name implies, allow homeowners to program a temperature schedule ahead of time for the home. You can set the thermostat to automatically adjust the temperature when you’re at work, and then start heating the home up 30 minutes before you get home.

Why is this a big energy-saving feature? Every homeowner—at one point or another—has forgotten to adjust their thermostat before leaving for work for the day. The result is a day full of energy waste as the heater keeps an empty home warm and toasty. By automating this, the programmable thermostat will help you reduce the amount of energy you use in the home.

Don’t settle for high heating (and cooling) costs!

When you make the home energy-efficiency upgrades listed above, you’re not just making your home more efficient for the winter. You’re also going to save money during the warmer months of the year—which is especially important here in Louisiana! In just a year or two, many of these upgrades will end up paying for themselves in the money you save on your energy bills.

To get an individualized and detailed look at how your home can work to keep more money in your wallet, call us to schedule a whole-home energy audit. Our team will recommend energy-efficiency upgrades for your home.