Insulation You probably won’t have your friends over to check out your new insulation, but you will notice a big difference in your monthly utility bills. Insulation is made from a variety of materials, and it usually comes in four types: rolls and batts, loose-fill, rigid foam, and foam-in-place.
Rolls and batts—or blankets—are flexible products made from mineral fibers, such as fiberglass and rock wool.
Loose-fill insulation is usually made of fiberglass, rock wool, or cellulose in the form of loose fibers or fiber pellets. It should be blown into spaces using special pneumatic equipment.
Rigid foam insulation (spray foam) is typically more expensive than rolls and batts or loose-fill insulation, but it is very effective in exterior wall sheathing, interior sheathing for basement walls, attic surfaces, or under floors. It can also be used for special applications such as attic hatches. You can use the small pressurized cans of foam-in-place insulation to reduce air leakage in holes and cracks such as window and door frames, and electrical and plumbing penetrations.
Foam-in-place insulation can be injected into walls to insulate and reduce air leakage. Injectable foam insulation has become more popular because its non-intrusive installation, and meets the high demand to insulate older homes that have very little if any effective insulation. Injectable foam has very different qualities that that of the rigid spray foam that make it easier to install in existing homes without damage to the dry wall or interior of the house. Here is a video of a foam-in-place installation.
Kitchen Appliances Kitchens use a lot of energy. Focus your finances on quality appliances that are the right size for your needs. Buying an energy-efficient dishwasher, refrigerator, microwave and oven can save you up to 50% on your electric bills. Update your plumbing and add aerators to your faucets to save hundreds of gallons of water from being wasted – and paid for.
Windows As far as home improvements you can make, it is a very sound investment. If you take into account the federal tax credit, the increase to the value of your home and the savings from greater energy efficiency, home replacement windows can easily pay for themselves in 10 to 15 years time. It is estimated that up to one third of the heat loss or gain in a home occurs through the windows. Single pane windows are especially inefficient, and the problem of drafty windows sometimes just can’t be fixed without replacing them. You could save a lot of money on your heating and cooling bills by replacing your windows, and you could also beautify the exterior of your home.
Roof If you’ve ever stood on a roof on a hot summer day, you know how hot it can get. The heat from your roof makes your air conditioner work even harder to keep your home cool. If you are building a new home, decide during planning whether you want a cool roof, and if you want to convert an existing roof, you can:
• Retrofit the roof with specialized heat-reflective material, like radiant barrier.
• Re-cover the roof with a new waterproofing surface (such as tile coating).
• Replace the roof with a cool one. A cool roof uses material that is designed to reflect more sunlight and absorb less heat than a standard roof.
Landscaping This is a natural and beautiful way to keep your home cool in summer and reduce your energy bills. A well-placed tree, shrub, or vine can deliver effective shade, act as a windbreak, and reduce your energy bills. Carefully positioned trees can save up to 25% of the energy a typical household uses. Research shows that summer day-time air temperatures can be 3°-6° cooler in tree-shaded neighborhoods than in treeless areas.