Energy Costs This Winter
When the cold north winds begin to blow this winter, you
will want to be sure your home is as energy efficient as
Warm air leaking out of your home during winter months can
waste a large portion of your energy dollars. But a
well-insulated and weatherized home can reduce your
heating costs by up to 30 per cent.
Checking your home's insulation system is the first step
toward overall energy efficiency. First check the
insulation in your attic, ceilings, exterior and basement
walls, floors and crawl spaces to see if it meets the
levels recommended for your area. Insulation is measured
in R-value -the higher the R-value, the better your walls
and roof will resist heat loss.
The easiest and most cost-effective way to insulate your
home is to add insulation in the attic. To find out if you
have enough attic insulation, measure the thickness of
insulation. If there is less than R-22 (7 inches of fiber
glass or 6 inches of cellulose) you should probably add
more. If your attic has enough insulation and you are
still feeling a chill, chances are you need to add
insulation to the exterior walls as well.
Catch the energy stealers
A home energy audit will show you where your home may be
wasting energy. You can do a simple audit yourself or many
local utility companies will conduct energy audits for
free or for a nominal charge. For a fee, a professional
contractor will analyze how your home's energy systems
work together and compare the analysis against your
utility bills. They will give you a list of
recommendations for cost effective energy improvements
that may include the following tips:
Set your thermostat as low as is comfortable in the
Clean or replace furnace filters once a month or as
Clean warm-air registers, baseboard heaters and radiators
as needed; make sure they are not blocked by furniture.
Use kitchen, bath and other ventilating fans sparingly; in
just one hour these fans can rob a houseful of warm air.
Keep drapes and shades on your south-facing windows open
during the day to allow sunlight to enter your home.
Select energy efficient heating equipment and appliances.
Install exterior or interior storm windows and caulk, seal
and weatherstrip all seams, cracks and openings to the
Turn off the lights in any room you are not using, or
install timers, photo cells or occupancy sensors to reduce
the amount of time your lights are on.
Use task lighting instead of lighting the entire room.
Use compact fluorescent bulbs which are four times more
energy efficient than incandescent bulbs and provide the
Water heating tips
Repair leaky faucets promptly; a leaky faucet wastes
gallons of water in a short period of time. .Insulate your
electric hot-water storage tank and pipes.
Install low-flow faucets and showerheads.
Lower the thermostat on your water heater.
Take more showers than baths. Bathing uses 15-25 gallons
of hot water while a 5-minute showers uses less than 10
Your local utility can
provide you with many more ideas to save energy in your
home. Identifying the energy wasters is a good place to
start. Once you have identified the places where you are
losing energy, you can assign priorities for improvement.
When formulating your plan, you may want to ask yourself
How much do you currently spend on energy?
Where are the greatest energy losses?
How long will it take for an investment in energy
efficiency to pay for itself in energy saving?
Can the work be done by you or should you hire a
What is your budget, and how much time do you have to
spend on maintenance and repair? With your priorities in
order, you can form a "whole house" efficiency plan
including a strategy for smart purchases and home
improvements that maximize energy efficiency and save you
the most money.