Make the most of your clothes dryer by ensuring an appropriate vent hose length. A shorter, unobstructed vent hose increases the efficiency of your dryer, dries clothing faster, and reduces lint buildup, which can create potential fire hazards.
These last weeks of a rainy winter might be delaying your outdoor plans but look around the house. There you'll find at least three hidden opportunities to save energy––and money, especially if you enjoy do-it-yourself projects that don't require a loan or a professionally-stocked toolbox.
If your goal is making your home more efficient, but you don't want to break the bank, there are several DIY projects you can tackle now to increase energy savings. Here are three inexpensive efficiency upgrades that can help you save energy throughout the year.
Trim Dryer Vent
Level of difficulty: easy. Supplies needed: tin snips, gloves, measuring tape, and masking tape. Estimated cost: about $25 depending on the supplies you already have.
If your dryer vent hose is too long, your dryer is working harder than it has to, using more energy than necessary. The vent hose should be long enough for you to pull the dryer out a couple of feet from the wall, but the shape of the tube should form a line––it should not have a lot of slack, with twists and curves. A shorter, unobstructed vent hose increases the efficiency of your dryer, dries clothing faster, and reduces lint buildup, which can create potential fire hazards.
Measure, mark, and trim the hose to the desired length, then reattach the hose to your dryer and exterior vent. If you're unsure about the hose length, check out YouTube.com for a quick video tutorial.
Seal Air Leaks
Level of difficulty: moderate. Supplies needed: caulk and caulk gun, weather stripping, gloves, putty knife, paper towels. Estimated cost: $25 to $50 depending on the materials you purchase.
Sealing air leaks in your home can help you save 10% to 20% on heating and cooling bills. Apply caulk around windows, doors, electrical wiring, and plumbing to seal in conditioned air. It would help if you also weather-stripped exterior doors, which can keep out drafts and help you control energy costs. Types of caulking and weather-stripping materials vary but ask your hardware or home store for assistance if you're unsure about the supplies you need. For more information, the Department of Energy provides step-by-step instructions for caulking and weather stripping: https://bit.ly/2Kesu6W
Insulate Attic Stairs Opening
Level of difficulty: moderate. Supplies needed: rigid foam board, faced blanket insulation, tape for foam board, measuring tape, utility knife, caulk and caulk gun, plywood. Estimated cost: $50 to $100.
A properly insulated attic is one of the best ways to optimize energy savings and comfort in your home. Still, many homeowners don't consider protecting the attic stairs, or the opening to your attic space. Even a well-insulated attic can leak air through the stair opening, but luckily, there's an easy fix.
An insulated cover box can seal and insulate the attic stairs opening. You can build your insulated cover box or purchase a pre-built box or kit from a local home improvement store like Home Depot or Lowe's for about $60. If you decide to build your own, check out these step-by-step instructions from the Department of Energy: https://bit.ly/36YNCYQ. If your attic opening is in a garage that you do not heat and cool, this upgrade will not be as effective.
Saving energy doesn't have to be hard. With a little time and effort on these rainy days, you can maximize energy savings and increase the comfort of your home just in time for the dog days of summer.
Based on an article by Abby Berry, who writes on consumer and cooperative affairs for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.