If you’re not an experienced DIYer, the prospect of home improvements can be a bit daunting, especially when it comes to the projects that affect your utility bill (plumbing, electricity, insulation, etc.) To make things easier, here are a few of the simplest fixes that can help you save on utilities and make your home more sustainable. None of these jobs costs more than £25, and none will take more than a weekend to get done.
Install weather stripping
The right weather stripping can easily pay for itself in just a few months of cold or hot weather, and it can also help you avoid hot or cold spots in your home if you have wall unit A/C or space heaters. New weather stripping is a good start for beginning DIYers; it’s simple, it’s cheap, and it’s hard to get wrong. All you need is a caulk gun, tin snips, a tape measure, and a hammer and nails. The cost will depend on the size of your house, but the larger the home, the more you’ll save on your heating and cooling costs. If you have a large home, you might want to set aside a Saturday for this project; otherwise, it’ll just take a few hours. Check out this guide for a step-by-step tutorial.
Clean out your condenser
When heating and cooling systems have to fight through dust bunnies and corrosion to maintain a comfortable temperature, the cost rises dramatically; and in most cases, the problem is easy to resolve. If you have central air, for example, all you need to clean out your condenser is a vacuum and a simple garden hose—it’s a ten minute job that can save hundreds over the course of a year.
Do some basic furnace maintenance
There are also simple projects that can improve your furnace’s efficiency:
- Make sure your furnace is off and no gas is flowing, and then vacuum out the blower and burner.
- Clean the blower blades with a stiff-bristle brush—make sure you clean the entire blower thoroughly, or you might throw it off-balance.
- Change your fiberglass filter every three months
- Blow compressed air on the pilot light to remove dust
- Check your furnace’s drive belt for cracks and fraying—a new belt costs about £3
Avoid touching the ignition system—not only is it easy to get hurt, you can also damage the igniter. Use compressed air to blow off dust, never wipe it down. Also, for any DIY project, any coolant or gas issues should be reported right away and left to the professionals.
Install water-saving fixtures
Efficient shower heads and faucets can make a big difference on your water bill, especially if you have to maintain a lawn or garden; and installing them is not much more complicated than screwing in a light bulb.
For your shower, you should definitely do your homework before buying a new shower head—some “efficient” systems feel like showering under a leaky pipe, while others provide a comfortable, usable flow. All you need to install it is some thread tape and adjustable pipe—once you’ve selected the head you want, the job will take less than five minutes.
If you have a newer home, your sink faucets will likely have aerators installed already, but some aren’t as efficient as they could be, and they’re one of the easiest faucet parts to replace. If your faucet is rated at more than 2.75 gallons per minute, you should try a new aerator. Like the name implies, a faucet aerator injects air into the stream to lower the faucet’s water output while maintaining strong pressure to maintain a usable stream. Just like the shower head, all you need for this job is some pipe tape and pliers.
Katie White is a freelance blogger and DIY enthusiast who is passionate about self-reliance and conservation. She takes pride in making her home a more sustainable and comfortable place for her husband and two kids. She lives in Dallas.