Unfortunately, there are lots of drafts in older homes, which result in high energy bills. What are the best, fastest-payback ways to make a home more energy efficient? The energy saving improvements that follow, in order from most to least effective, will pay back the quickest:
Seal up all heat leaking holes and cracks in the attic floor with foam caulk.
Insulate the attic floor.
Repair the weather stripping around all windows and doors.
Install a setback thermostat that’s programmable.
Replace single pane windows with either low-e glazing or argon gas-filled windows.
Install foam-core insulated entry doors.
Replace the furnace or heat pump if it’s more than 10 years old.
Replace an old, inefficient refrigerator or freezer.
Depending on the severity of the climate and how poorly insulated the house is, it will take 3 to 15 years for you to get a return on most of these improvements. Energy savings can be as high as 50 percent in a few cases. But even with lower savings, you’ll increase the comfort level and resale value of your home and help protect the environment.
However, remember that buttoning up a house too tight can be dangerous. If gas furnaces, ranges and other combustion appliances don’t draft properly, it can cause toxic fumes to be drawn back into the house by an exhaust fan or even a change in wind direction. After making the improvements, hire an energy auditor to determine airflow through your home using a blower door test. To find an auditor, check with your utility company or call an insulating contractor.