This Valentine's Day, I plan to cuddle with my dog (right) and add drapes to make my windows more energy efficient. | Left photo courtesy of Chris Gunn, National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Right photo courtesy of Paige and Rory Terlip.
Love is in the air, and whether you are celebrating Valentine's Day with your significant other, family, or friends, you can also show some love to your home!
While my Valentine's Day will most likely be spent cuddling on the couch with my dog, I also plan to make some energy efficient updates that will keep me comfortable as I lounge around the house. First on my list is investing in some energy efficient window treatments.
Dressing Up the Windows
Window treatments do more than make your windows look good; they can also greatly increase the comfort of your home by reducing winter heat loss. My first step to making my windows more energy efficient and beautiful will be to add some drapes. Right now I have zero draperies in my town home. This means that I wake up whenever the sunlight starts streaming through the blinds—even if my alarm hasn't gone off yet. But draperies won't just let me sleep in on the weekends; they can also reduce heat loss from a warm room up to 10%.
During the winter, I will open the drapes on my sunlit windows during the day to allow passive solar energy to help heat my room. At night, I'll shut them and make sure the panels overlap in the center to ensure minimal heat loss, even using magnetic clips to keep them attached.
I may also take the time to clean the slobber marks on my windows because clearer windows let in more heat during the day. (I can't promise they'll stay clean for long.)
Sealing Up the Cracks
Next on my list is conquering some air leaks. The door leading out to my small front yard could use some help. So on my Valentine's Day to do list, right alongside "buy dog treats," is weatherstripping the front door. It was difficult initially to know what the best product would be for such a trafficked area, but Energy Saver's weatherstripping comparison chart broke it down for me. I've decided to go with tubular rubber as my weatherstripping material. It will act as an effective air barrier and can be used around a door. It might be a bit more difficult to install and a bit more expensive than, say, tape or felt but it has the greater durability that I'll need.
It will also be warm this weekend—well, warm for Colorado in the wintertime. The forecasts are calling for 50s and sunshine, which is a perfect time to apply weatherstipping, because weatherstripping should be applied to clean, dry surfaces in temperatures above 20°F.
Sprucing Up the Ventilation
I made an energy-saving New Year's Resolution (along with carpooling to work) to take shorter, colder showers to save money and water. It's been going well, and I thought that less heat and steam would also help my current ventilation system. But even though I'm spending less time in the shower, I'm still noticing some ventilation issues that could lead to moisture problems. Since it is the only room where I'm noticing potential issues, I decided to just upgrade my spot ventilation system.
The American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineering, or ASHRAE, recommends intermittent or continuous ventilation rates for bathrooms of 50 or 20 cubic feet per minute, and apparently my current system isn't up to that standard. Since I have to replace, it I might as well pick an ENERGY STAR ventilation fan that will use less energy and provide better performance with less noise!
It sounds like a lot of work, especially on a holiday weekend, but it will pay off in the long run, especially when it comes time to buy the high-quality dog food my furry child demands.
So spread the love this Valentine's Day by doing your part to cut energy use and costs in your home. Not only will you be more comfortable, your wallet will love you for it!