What does a Garden Gnome do when she is not gardening, in the kitchen or doing genealogy? Well the answer might just surprise you so read the entries to find out more. This blog focuses on everything we do to make our house a home. There will be a strong emphasis on home energy efficiency and do-it-yourself (DIY) projects. At the same time there will also be crafts, knitting and crocheting projects along with any other little tips we do to create that down to earth, I want to be here home. Please enjoy your visit :)

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Ten Home Improvements That Reduce Air Conditioning Costs

There is no doubt about it, the cost of electricity is continuing to climb.  We now have TOU pricing with the highest rate falling between 11 AM and 5 PM from May 1 to October 31.  Unfortunately, this covers the hottest time of the day (12 PM to 4 PM) precisely when air conditioning is needed the most.  There are several low to moderate cost home improvements that can help reduce your air conditioning costs.  Here are a few of them:

  1. If your HVAC is older than 20 years the recommendation is to replace it with new, energy efficient models that use less electricity.  There are grants available in Ontario to help offset the cost of replacement if doing both at the same time. (about $7,000 to $15,000)
  2. If your furnace is working fine and under 20 years old, you can replace the AC unit only. (about $2,000 to $3,000, professionally installed)
  3. If your HVAC is newer than 20 years old but has the older style blower motor, it is possible to replace the motor with a new, energy efficient one that uses less electricity. (about $100 to $350, DIY)  Savings on this replace will be about $500 per year.
  4. Plant shade trees strategically to help shade the house.  (about $50 to $1,000 depending on size of tree).  Larger trees will need a backhoe to plant them (about $200 for one man, 2 hours labour)
  5. Plant non-invasive flowering vines (eg. clematis, climbing roses) on trellises on the east and west walls of your home.  (about $50 per trellis, $15 per plant) This will help shade the walls keeping the interior of your house cooler.  Do not plant invasive or damaging vines like English ivy or Trumpet vine on your house as both attract mosquitoes and spiders.  Both damage exterior surfaces of your house and English ivy in particular attracts rodents.
  6. Install solar window film to lessen solar gain in the summer and thermal loss during the winter.  (about $300, DIY to $1,000, installed depending on number of windows and sizes).
  7. Seal your house to prevent cooled air from leaking out or hot air from entering into your home.  (about $2 per tube of caulk, DIY)  Weather strip doors and windows to prevent air leakage. (about $10 to $30 per door, $5 per window)
  8. Replacement windows can greatly reduce both your heating and cooling costs.  If you can't retrofit your windows with weather stripping, caulk or second pane of window, consider replacing them with energy efficient, double or triple pane windows.  Whole house window replacement (about $3,000 to $5,000) can be a DIY project or you have have them professionally installed usually in one day.  
  9. Install awnings on your windows and doors.  This is an age old method of shading windows and doors.  They can be wood, aluminum or fabric and some are retractable.  You can install them on all your windows if you want a uniform look although awnings installed on north facing windows will make those rooms considerably darker, or install just on problem windows and doors like an south, east or west facing patio door.  Not only does an awning installed on a patio door shade the room indoors, it creates a shaded outdoor sitting area as well.  (about $200 per window depending on size)
  10. Install a seasonal gazebo off your patio doors.  This will shade the patio giving you a nice outdoor dining or sitting area while also shading the interior of the room.  (about $400, DIY)
Garden Gnome