Michelle K, the founder of San Antonio Green Drinks and aforementioned meetup has put together an excellent piece on steps to make your home more efficient:
During Green Drinks the other night, we were talking about the Solar Tour and how one of the installers mentioned that the expensive project of installing solar panels should only be undertaken if you've made your house the most efficient possible. The good news is that making your house efficient is much cheaper (more bang for your buck). The most obvious is to swap out all of your light bulbs with CFLs.
The next most frequent suggestion is to locate and fix air leaks. I didn't quite know how to go about this. I found a web site that spelled it out for me, plus has more suggestions.
Here is the jest of finding and fixing air leaks...
- Check to see if the caulking and weather stripping are applied properly, leaving no gaps or cracks, and are in good condition.
- If you can rattle your doors or windows, movement means possible air leaks. If you can see daylight around a door or window frame, then the door or window leaks. You can usually seal these leaks by caulking or weather stripping them. Check the storm windows to see if they fit and are not broken.
- To locate indoor leaks, conduct a basic building pressurization test:
This test increases infiltration through cracks and leaks, making them easier to detect. You can use incense sticks or your damp hand to locate these leaks. If you use incense sticks, moving air will cause the smoke to waver, and if you use your damp hand, any drafts will feel cool to your hand.
- First, close all exterior doors, windows, and fireplace flues.
- Turn off all combustion appliances such as gas burning furnaces and water heaters.
- Then turn on all exhaust fans (generally located in the kitchen and bathrooms) or use a large window fan to suck the air out of the rooms.
- On the outside of your house, inspect all areas where two different building materials meet, including:
You should plug and caulk holes or penetrations for faucets, pipes, electric outlets, and wiring. Look for cracks and holes in the mortar, foundation, and siding, and seal them with the appropriate material. Check the exterior caulking around doors and windows, and see whether exterior storm doors and primary doors seal tightly.
- All exterior corners
- Where siding and chimneys meet
- Areas where the foundation and the bottom of exterior brick or siding meet.