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Keep Your Home Cool for Less

We’ve had some wacky winter weather in the last few months, but there is a strong consensus that we may be in for an equally brutal summer in the Greater DC area. Summer cooling bills can make even the most seasoned homeowner grimace. Now, there are a lot of things you can do to help tame that cooling bill and make your home more energy efficient – from the simple to the elaborate, and from the cheap to the I-need-a-2nd-mortgage expensive. For purposes of this post, we are going to focus on those inexpensive, DIY fixes that nearly any homeowner can tackle. Results may vary, but every little bit helps.

Smart Energy Usage

This category is more about every day habits. It’s those  little things that can make a huge difference. Turn off lights when not in use. Unplug appliances and electronics when not in use. Use a programmable thermostat to adjust the temperatures in your home when no one is home or when you are sleeping. Try to avoid using the oven on hot summer days, which will make your A/C work harder to cool your home. And lastly, get a semi-annual “tune up” of your A/C unit and HVAC system (this should be done in the spring and the fall), to make sure that your system is in it’s best working order. These are year-round solutions can help you keep your bills lower, no matter the season.

Choose Window Coverings Wisely

You wouldn’t believe the difference that window coverings can make. Some are designed specifically to block drafts and keep cool air or warm air in the room, rather than escaping through leaky windows. Other window coverings, simply by blocking the strongest of the suns rays on south or west facing window during the intense heat of mid-to-late afternoon, can make a room immediately feel cooler. If you like to let light into your home, but want to block some of the heat, consider an awning or strategically placed pergola or tree outside a window that can filter the rays before they come into the room.

Keep Your Windows and Doors Clean and Repaired

Your windows have weather seals that are designed to prevent air exchange with the outside. One factor in window seal failure is dirt and grime build up around the window. Clean your windows inside and out, and use vacuum to clean debris from between the window and the screen and in the track.

Caulk is used around windows and doors to seal the seams between the trim and the door or window frame. The original caulk deteriorates over time and periodically needs to be replaced or repaired. You can run a bead of caulk all the way around windows and doors to reseal them. Focus on the mitered joints, and where the trim meets the wall, and where the trim meets the window or door frame.

While caulk is used around trim, it’s also possible for air to leak around the door or window itself. This can happen because of settling, deterioration, or weather damage, or numerous other reasons. If there are gaps between the door or window and its frame, you can fill these gaps with weather stripping. There are different kinds of weather stripping, but most are fairly simple to install with common household tools. You can find out more about the different types and installation tips in this article from This Old House.

Another common location for leaks is between the bottom of the door and the threshold. The remedy for this is a “door sweep” that attaches to the bottom of the door. It will allow the door to open and close normally, but when the door is closed, it creates a barrier against the threshold to prevent air exchange. An often overlooked door for a fix like this is the one between the interior of the house and the garage. Often these are just basic interior doors that are not necessarily designed to seal against air exchange, like an exterior door is.

Preventing cool air from getting outside, and keeping the warm air from getting in will help your A/C run more efficiently and lower your energy bills.

Check the Ductwork

Out of sight, out of mind, often means that we don’t realize that we could be losing a lot of A/C (or heat) into an attic or crawl space, rather than keeping it in the living space where it should be. Leaky ducts are responsible for a significant amount of energy loss. Inspect your ducts for obvious sings of damage, such as holes or tears, but also look for poor connections between ducts. You can repair some problems yourself with foil tape or mastic (NOT duct tape, contrary to the name), then wrap them in insulating material designed for air ducts. If you find major issues, you may need to call a heating/cooling contractor, but this easily be done as a DIY project. You can find many of the ducts that feed your home in an attic, crawl space, garage, or unfinished basement.

When it is time to sell or buy a home, having a local team you can rely on will make the process a smooth one. Call the Realtors® who love where they live and understand the local real estate market. ADMC Realty Group happily serves the communities in and around the Washington DC, Maryland, and Northern Virginia areas. From start to finish, we’re here to help with all your Real estate needs. Give us a call at (202)596-8101 or email us at [email protected].

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