Reliant's do-it-yourself home energy improvement project guides
Regardless of your level of home improvement expertise, we have seven great DIY home improvement projects for you to try in your home. These seven projects are fairly quick and easy to complete and can help increase the energy efficiency of your space. Try out these projects to get started on your path to becoming a DIY home efficiency project expert.
Seal air leaks with caulk
Add weatherstripping to all exterior doors
Turn a ladder into a laundry drying rack
Make a simple door draft stopper
Apply window film to block the sun
Insulate hot water pipes
Build your own rain barrel
Frequently asked questions on DIY home energy projects
Q: Which energy saving do-it-yourself home improvement projects should I do myself and which should I hire an expert for?
Certain projects require a professional for safety reasons, such as projects that involve electrical work or changing the structure of a room. If you are working in an area that may pose a safety risk, such as a bathroom (where both water and electrical wiring are present), you will be required by law to hire a professional electrician. In addition to putting you at risk of injury, attempting a project that should be handled by a licensed professional could lead to home damage and rack up the costs of your project. Always exercise caution when entering your attic or accessing other spaces where the flooring or other surfaces are dimly lit and potentially hazardous.
On the flip side, there are plenty of DIY projects you can tackle yourself to save money and achieve a sense of accomplishment. Smaller-scale projects that improve the look and feel of your home and also increase energy efficiency are great projects for DIY home improvement. For instance, you can probably fill in cracks around your windows with caulk or make a decorative door draft stopper fairly easily.
Q: Can you remodel or renovate rental properties?
Most landlords will not allow you to make changes to rental properties, so it is very important to check with your landlord before considering any type of remodeling. Sometimes, minor changes are permissible if they are reversible once you move out — for example, painting a wall.
It may better suit you to tackle smaller DIY projects that will help you crack down on that energy bill but leave your property unchanged. A great project of this scope would be making a DIY door draft stopper that will help to keep heating and cooling in intended areas and cut back on drafts. Or, if you want to reduce how often you run your dryer, create an affordable and eye-pleasing laundry drying rack. You can find instructions for both of these projects in this section.
Q: Is it worth the time and effort to DIY?
As with most things, there are both pros and cons to DIY home improvement projects. On the positive side, homeowners can benefit from purchasing supplies at local home improvement stores and doing DIY projects themselves to cut down on costs. It’s done on your timeline, and you can decide when you want to work on the project. No need to wait on a professional to come work on it.
On the other hand, a con can be that you may bite off more than you can chew and wind up spending more fixing what you’ve messed up. Or, some people find that the turnaround time for the project takes too long. If you need a quick turnaround, you might need to hire a professional. But, if you’re looking to save money, gain a sense of satisfaction and grow your experience, DIY may be right for you.
The amount of energy and money you save will depend on the current state of your home and the way you execute your DIY projects. Some people may see significant savings from a few small changes, but others may only notice a small reduction in energy use or energy bill charges. Keep it fun and choose projects you think will make a difference in your home or that you will have a good time completing. It can be interesting to track how much, if any, changes you see in your energy usage and costs in the months following an energy-efficiency project. Those results can help you determine which other projects might make a difference.
Q: What are the best home improvement energy-saving tips and projects for me?
You can find energy-saving tips and projects all over the Internet, but the ones that will help you the most are probably not the same as the ones that would work for someone living in a different town, climate or type of home.
Understand the scope of improvements or projects you're willing to take on and your own skill level. Unless you already have a lot of experience with home improvements, start small and go from there.
Know your home and where energy is being used in your home. Our Home Energy Checkup can help provide some of that information if you are a Reliant customer. The type of home you have, its age and building materials, your personal habits and the weather will all contribute to energy use. Figuring out where the energy is going can help you choose the right projects for you.
Read some of our energy-saving tips to get an idea of some small behavioral changes you can make and then consult this guide for larger improvement ideas.
Once you have a good idea of what you're able to take on and the improvements that could make a difference for your particular home, you can test the waters (and your theories about what will make an impact) with small projects first. For example, you could start out by changing out standard light fixtures for energy-efficient light fixtures, or installing a smart thermostat. After that, you can try out some of the simpler DIY projects in this guide and then, as you feel more confident, progress on to some of the more complicated weekend projects. In short, the best projects for you are ones you feel confident you can do safely and that will work for your home. Even small changes can make a big difference.
Q: When should I bring in an expert?
If you reach a point where you need to call in for backup for your renovation projects, you may need to reach out to a local handy man or renovation project professional. Lifehacker has an excellent article that can help you decide if you want to tackle a project yourself or call in an expert. Even if the experts complete part of the project, such as the more complex portions of a kitchen remodel, and you complete only the smaller-scale portions such as installing energy-saving light bulbs and appliances, you will still get the efficiency upgrades you want and potentially save money in the long run.