1.Purchase a high-efficiency shower head. This cuts down on both water consumption and energy costs.
2.Upgrading your appliances? Consider energy-efficient appliances with the ‘Energy Star’ logo. According to the Energy Star site, Energy Star-qualified appliances use 10%-50% less energy and water than standard models. Remember to ask about discounts, especially when purchasing several appliances at once.
3.Get with the program. Set your thermostat to accommodate the schedule of your home. Lower the heat during the day when no one is at home and at night when occupants are sleeping. Also, try to maintain a moderate temperature, instead of cranking the heat or air conditioning to drastically change the temperature.
4.Utilize fans instead of air conditioning. Consider operating fans to circulate the summer air instead of opting for the more expensive and less environmentally friendly air conditioning.
5.Insulate and seal the gaps. Hidden gaps and cracks within a home lead to an abundant loss of heat in the winter and air conditioning in the warmer months. Caulk any leaks around windows and doors, in attics and around fireplaces. Proper insulation installation or roof replacement may be necessary.
6.Replace lights with LED or compact fluorescent bulbs. The cost is more upfront, but the lights use less energy and last longer.
Sure, times are tough, and money is tight. It may be tempting to put off home repairs. And while it’s okay to rebuild your patio when you get that long-awaited bonus, some repairs can’t be ignored because they can cause thousands of dollars in damage–or worse, they might affect your family’s health.
The June 2009 issue of Consumer Reports listed five “red flags of home maintenance” that need immediate attention–even in a bad economy.
1. Keep water away from the house. Gutters, downspouts and leaders collect rainwater and move it away from the house. Check the gutter system seasonally. Also, make sure that soil slopes away from the house.
2. Inspect the roof. Use binoculars to spot damaged or missing shingles, and check for cracks around chimneys, skylights and roof valleys, all common sources of leaks.
3. Keep bugs out. Termites and carpenter ants can do major damage, so inspect the exterior of your home for signs of their presence, and keep mulch, firewood and shrubbery away from the foundation.
4. Avoid mold. Inspect the interior of the house for signs of mold. If indoor mold covers less than 10 square feet, you can treat it yourself with a bleach solution. Professional help is needed for larger areas.
5. Seal foundation cracks. Hairline cracks can be filled with epoxy. For cracks wider than 3/16”, however, consider hiring a structural engineer to inspect. These can be a problem.