Whether you head to big-box stores for your hardware needs or shop locally around the block, you can get sidetracked looking at all the handy products that can make your home projects simpler. Next time you’re wandering the aisles, ask a clerk to point you to these cool, inexpensive energy saving items that are made specifically to cut down air leaks in your home.
Thermal Leak Detector
If a certain room in your home feels hotter or colder than other areas, you may have hidden air leaks. Find them with a thermal leak detector, which is a device that uses an infrared laser to measure surfaces for dips and peaks from a reference temperature. To locate where you are losing energy specifically, shine the device around doors, windows, and footings. Most devices alert you to differences in temperature by changing from neutral green to red (hot) or blue (cold) so that you can pinpoint outside air drafts, and determine where you need to seal air leaks.
Electrical outlets and wall switches located on exterior walls can be responsible for up to 5% of energy loss in your home. Installing foam outlet gaskets are an easy and inexpensive way to reduce incoming drafts and outgoing temperature-controlled air. Your local hardware store will offer plates and switch covers with the foam attached or you can grab a box of gaskets and install them behind your current covers. Some plates are even spring-loaded to cover plug holes when not in use, which blocks even more air loss, and provides added protection for children.
Window A/C Covers
If your air conditioner is mounted permanently in a window or built into the wall, then winter winds can sift through your unit into the home and cause drafts, heat loss, and a higher electric bill. A quilted or insulated air conditioner cover will shield your unit from taking in cold air and can protect it from leaves, dust, and snow, which helps it function better when it’s time to use it in summer. You can choose a cover to place over your conditioner from the inside or the outside. You’ll find cover options in different sizes and materials (indoor ones are typically machine-washable). Some covers attach with Velcro, while others use elastic to wrap the unit like a fitted sheet. Besides a cover, add some weatherstripping to seal between the unit and window frame, and you’ve taken a big step in keeping yourself warmer in winter.
On your next trip to the hardware store, take an extra moment to look around for these energy saving items that can help you save energy without breaking the bank.