There are many things homeowners can do by themselves to improve the efficiency of a home. Many of these ideas are also budget-friendly and the cost will be paid back quickly with the energy savings.
Window treatments offer an exceptional efficiency option while improving the look of your home. For south-facing windows, choose drapery or blinds that filter the light in the summer to reduce the heat. Reducing the light will also reduce the potential for color fading in carpets and furniture.
Heavy, insulated draperies should be used over large or north-facing windows to reduce cold air filtration during the winter. You might also choose clear plastic liners designed to prevent airflow while still providing a clear view.
CFL bulbs save a large amount of energy over incandescent. So much so that the federal government has banned the production of 40 and 60-watt bulbs in the U.S. as of January 1, 2014. Higher watt bulbs are also being phased out. Choose CFL or LED lighting for low-cost, long-lasting lighting options. The bulbs may cost more in initial purchase, but they are designed to operate much longer than incandescent types.
For a custom home type improvement, set up automatic lighting systems that turn needed lights on or off at set times of the day. Motion detection systems are another choice and work well in areas where individuals may forget to turn lights back off. Newer automated systems can even be controlled remotely from a computer or smart phone.
Use a durable caulk around all door and window seams. Even the smallest gaps can let in a significant amount of hot or cold air. Check both the inside and outside of window and door frames and seal any areas where you feel a draft. Look for any areas where utilities enter your home and caulk around these openings.
Use weather-stripping for any gaps where an exterior door meets the frame. Rolls of weather-stripping are low in cost and self-adhesive types apply easily with no mess. Add quality door seals to the bottom of all exterior doors to stop drafts from entering underneath. As a temporary fix, a rolled up towel can be placed at the bottom of the door to stop drafts.