The Chicago winter is fast approaching.

6 tips for Wilmette home owners to make their home more energy efficient and save money on utility costs

As a North Shore Chicago homeowner, it’s important to keep your home running efficiently, not only to save money, but also to help the environment thrive. October 2nd is Energy Efficiency Day, a perfect time to think about making some key upgrades that will improve the efficiency of your home. If you’re looking to sell your house and increase the pool of potential buyers in your market, the upgrades below are truly a must.

According with Wallet Hub,

“In the U.S., energy costs eat between 5 and 22 percent of families’ total after-tax income.”

What should you spend on utilities?

Money Management says,

“If you’re working with a budget, and trust me, you should be, your utility costs should be no more than 8-10 percent of your monthly income.”

How can you make your home more efficient?

EnergyEfficiencyDay.Org provides some handy tips that can help you improve the energy efficiency of your home. Here are a few simple ones to consider, and how to make them happen:

1. Make the Switch to LED

LEDs are a great example of how innovation and technology can make your life easier. They last at least 25 times longer and consume up to 90 percent less electricity than incandescent bulbs.  You’ll save money on your bills and also save time by not having to constantly change burnt out light bulbs.  Look for LED bulbs in the warmer kelvin scale as they will give the warm white light most people are accustomed to.

Tip: By switching five of your home’s most frequently used bulbs with ENERGY STAR® certified LEDs, it’s possible to save $75 on energy costs annually.

2. Seal Those Leaks

On average, heating and cooling account for almost half of a home’s energy consumption. In fact, all the little leaks can be equivalent to leaving open a 3-foot-by-3-foot window.

Tip: Take simple steps like caulking windows, sealing leaks around chimneys and recessed lighting, and sliding draft guards under your doors to save up to 20% on heating costs.

3. Heat and Cool Efficiently

Don’t waste money heating or cooling an empty home. Install a programmable thermostat, such as a nest or other wifi enabled device and in colder weather schedule your home’s heat to lower when you are away or asleep and increase when you are returning home or waking-up. In warm weather, schedule the thermostat to raise the temperature when you are away or asleep, and lower it at other times.  You can even set the nest and other wifi thermostats to heat or cool the home to a comfortable temperature once you are within an hour or so of home.

Tip: Follow the U.S. Department of Energy recommended temperatures and be energy-efficient all year.

4. Maintain Your HVAC System

Make sure to clean or change your furnace filters regularly. A dirty furnace filter will slow down air flow, making the system work harder to keep you warm (or cool) and costing you more money.

Tip: Consider getting a winter tune-up. Just as a tune-up for your car can improve your gas mileage, a semi-annual or yearly tune-up of your heating and cooling system can be vital to improve efficiency, saving you money and making your home more comfortable.

5. Consider Spray Foam Insulation.

Closed cell spray foam insulation is must in your Attic and Basement.  Closed cell spray foam insulation is many times more energy efficient than fiberglass and has an R value of 6 – 7 per inch verses 2 for fiberglass.  It also offers protection against fire, drafts and increases the strength / structural integrity of the home.   Closed cell spray foam has a long life of over 80 years verses 20 years for fiberglass (if it stays dry).  Closed cell foam insulation does not have dangerous fibers so it is safer to have in your home than fiberglass.    Closed cell insulation must be installed by a professional and it is considerably more expensive than fiberglass, but it should pay for itself with the energy saved and also never needs to be replaced.

6. Compare your Rates

Comed, is the electric provider for Chicago, Evanston, Wilmette, and most of the North Shore.  Comed’s rates tend to change from month to month.   You might save money by locking in a rate for a few month up to one year or more.   You can go here to compare your rates .  Be careful of companies that have monthly fees, teaser rates and also early cancellation fees.   MC2 is a great provider and they offer competitive rates without early cancellation penalties.

Bottom Line

By making a few key upgrades to your home, you’ll save on your utility bills and improve the energy efficiency of your home. You’ll also be making your home more appealing to buyers, as an energy efficient home with low utilities is a feature all buyers want.