Save Power and Money by Weatherising Your Home

shutterstock_186918203It’s a sad fact that power bills are not going down. While there was some limited relief on the quarterly headache when the Australian Government repealed the ‘carbon tax’, this effect will be temporary and it is inevitable that bills will begin escalating again as the price of producing energy becomes more costly.

So what can you do to try and minimise your bills? There are a lot of small things that can, in fact, help limit your power bill. And many people haven’t considered what they can do, or realised the impact that it can have on the family bottom line.

Weatherising your home is something every home handyman can do, and it will deliver a marked improvement come the time of year for your bill to be delivered. So, in order to get ready for the heat of summer and the cold of winter, have a look around the house in these areas to check that the house itself isn’t costing you money.

Step 1: Find the leaks

Every house has places where heating or cooling can “leak” out, dramatically increasing the cost of keeping the heater or air conditioner running. Finding the leak is quite easy – light something that produces smoke over a long period of time (a stick of incense or a candle works well), and run it along doors and windows during a windy day. Wherever the smoke is moved in some way (either pushed into the room or pulled outside) there’s a gap that needs plugging to weatherise your home.

Step 2: Plug the leaks

Once you’ve found the leaks through the household, plugging them couldn’t be easier – you just caulk them! Head on down to your local hardware store and choose the right caulking for the job. Then, remove any old caulking, dirt and debris from the surface that you’re looking to seal, and follow the instructions on the caulk product bottle to create a new seal.

Step 3: Weatherstrip external doors

Weatherstripping is a term to describe a process to better seal down doors. This too is quite easy for the home handyman to do (with a useful how-to video here), but essentially it involves using a variety of materials to line the interior of the doorways to prevent outside elements from getting into the house, and interior heating or cooling from escaping. Families that take this simple but critical step can expect to save a couple of hundred dollars off the typical power bill each year alone.

Step 4: Plug the big gaps

Have you got a garage attached to the house (often the most poorly insulated room thanks to the presence of the garage doors)? Seal any connections that it has with the main house – after all, your car doesn’t need your winter’s heating! If your house has a fireplace that you don’t regularly use (especially in summer), then plug it with an inflatable plug. And if you do use it, make sure you can close the damper tightly when you’re not burning something in it.

Step 5: Insulate the electrical outlets

Get yourself a foam insulation kit for both electrical outlets and wall plates. Using these will help reduce drafts that can enter the home, especially for walls that are exposed on the opposite side to the elements.

Bonus step for advanced handymen: Insulate the pipes

If you’re feeling confident, then you can also insulate your plumbing pipes. This is more challenging than the other steps, but it can save significant money (if it doesn’t cause a catastrophe).

For high-heat areas (such as close to the water heaters), make sure you use fiberglass pipe wrap. Otherwise you can use tubular pipe sticks, both of which should be available at the local hardware shop. Be sure to also caulk any cracks and holes in foundations need water pipes, and also be aware that this isn’t a one-time job. You’ll need to regularly check any insulation you install to ensure it’s of good condition and fully covers the pipes.

These five (plus one bonus) steps are all relatively easy steps that can be done with off-the-shelf tools and equipment, and will result in a measurable and immediate saving to your power bill.