13 Ways To Save Energy and Cut Winter Heating Bills
1. Caulk and seal air leaks inside and around the exterior of your home, targeting fixtures that penetrate walls like exhaust fans and outlets. Homes may lose 15-30% of their heat through air leaks. Check gaps near dryer vents, chimneys, and around plumbing lines. Use minimal expanding foam when sealing spaces around doors and windows to ensure they will continue to operate properly.
2. Weather-stripping is very affordable and prevents heat loss along doors and windows. Weather-stripping on doors and windows may last for up to 15 years.
3. Keep curtains open on south side of home (during the day) to allow sunlight to radiate into the home. Closed all curtains and pull all shades (at night) and on north side during the day, to help reduce heat loss through the glass of your windows.
4. Burning fireplaces suck air from some areas of the house, leaving other rooms cold. Adjust your furnace thermostat to correspond with the lower temperature. Install a glass door on the fireplace and close the damper when not in use.
5. Clean air filters in the furnace monthly, and more frequently if pets live indoors. A dirty filter prevents efficient air movement and causes the furnace to run longer. Furnaces over 30 years old usually are less than 50 percent efficient.
6. Use ceiling fans, especially in rooms with high ceilings. Blades should be switched to draw air up from the living space and push warm air down along the walls.
7. Turn off room lights when not in use. Consider replacing many of your most widely used incadescent bulbs with LED light bulbs. Many 100 watt bulbs can be replaced with 18 or 21 watt LED's and reduce energy consumption. LED's also last longer than traditional incadescent bulbs.
8. Flooring above unheated spaces, such as the crawl space and garage, should be treated like a ceiling. Insulate these areas. Is your attic well-insulated? If not, consider adding insulation to the attic. This is one of the primary barriers to the cold outside temperatures.
9. Replace screens with storm windows and doors. Double-paned glass is preferred and will play an important role in reducing your heat loss.
10. Be aware of the many "phantom power loads" you may have in your home. These are devices that may appear to be off, but are actually draining power 24 hours a day, such as computers, printers, VCR's, big screen TV's, cordless phones, dustbusters, and answering machines. See our feature story in the January '06 center section of Illinois Country Living Magazine for more details.
11. Lower the temperature on your water heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit, or between low and medium on some models. Each 10-degree reduction in temperature will cut your water heating costs by 3 to 5 percent.
12. If you replace an appliance such as a refrigerator, dishwasher, dryer, washing machine, or freezer, be sure and shop for models with the Energy Star symbol. Many Energy Star appliances and home electronics can save you 20% over older non-efficient models.
13. Request a "Blower Door Test" from Wayne-White to determine where the air leaks are in your home. This $25 test can provide you with knowledge about your building's envelope that you can modify or repair with minimal expense. The end result will save you money for many years to come.
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