Staying warm during Michigan winters shouldn’t cost you a fortune. It’s all too easy to forget about the energy-efficiency your home when you’re busy with the start of the holiday season. Before you know it, however, the snow and frigid air will be testing your home’s ability to keep in warm air.
Ideally, you can start by having your home HERS rated. A HERS rater will look at air leakage, attics and crawl spaces, ceilings and roofs, windows, vents, and your HVAC system, among others. From there, prioritize your home repairs and replacements considering the long-term value of these changes, along with budgetary constraints. It’s alright to make the list and work through it over a few years. We’ve put together some tips for when you aren’t sure where to start in your upgrades, they range from relatively low-cost to entire renovation projects. When you prioritize energy-efficiency, you should be able to keep a warm home all winter long.
- Turn on your ceiling fans. The fan blades should rotate in a clockwise or “reverse” direction to redistribute warm air, which naturally rises to the ceiling. This is free of cost and and incredibly easy. The direction switch is on the exterior of the fan, and should be visible at eye-level. Be sure to flip the switch back once warm weather hits.
- Open up the curtains on sunny days. Mother Nature lets us have sunshine for free! Opening up your curtains allows the sunshine to warm the home and get you some vitamin D for those winter blues. For added efficacy, purchase dark, thick curtains and be sure to close them at dusk, keeping the cold at bay.
- Have your heating system(s) inspected and cleaned. If your system has a filter, replace it once every three months. This can also improve your air quality, reports the Environmental Protection Agency. If anyone in your home has allergies or frequent illness, duct cleaning may be a sound investment.
- Scott Branc, owner of New Urban Home Developers LLC, is a Certified Green Professional with renovation tips to make your home more energy-efficient. “Make sure the windows don’t leak,” Branc suggests. “Windows are the second biggest source of air infiltration which decreases your R-value.” R-value is the measure of heat transfer in a home. The higher the R value, the less air from your home is being transferred through the walls and windows. You may need to re-caulk from the outside or even replace the windows with a newer model.
- “The number one way to increase energy-efficiency is to add insulation,” says Branc. “That way you’re getting the most bang for your buck and decreasing energy loss.” Spray foam insulation is a very effective way of insulating your attic and forcing warm air to stay contained in the living areas of your home. When done professionally, this project can cost up to a couple thousand dollars.
Whether you are just sealing up the home a little better this year, or have begun your renovation wishlist, increasing the energy-efficiency of your home is an investment that will keep you warmer and save you money over the long-term on heating and cooling costs. For renovators and Certified Green Professionals, contact the Home Builders- Association of Grand Rapids at 616-281-2021 or mygrhome.com.