Look In The Attic: Attic insulation is taken for granted many homeowners think they're covered when they're not. A well insulated attic will afford you a substantial savings on your heating costs. Make a trip to your attic with a ruler/yard stick in hand, check the thickness of your insulation if the insulation under the rafters is six inches thick or less, you need to adjust your R-value. R-value is a rating of resistance to heat flow; higher numbers signal a better ability to protect against heat transfer. Most attics need an R-value of 38 or more, which typically translates into at least a foot of insulation, (check with a local insulation retailer for the proper coverage in your area). Because colder climes need more protection, recommended R-values vary across the country, so find out how much insulation you need (or log onto simplyinsulate.com). New insulation isn't cheap, but compare to what you loose in heating cost each year, it will pay for itself in no time, and it can lower heating and cooling costs by 25 percent in a single year. And don't forget, that starting in 2006, you can get up to $500 in federal tax credits for insulating your home (for more information, go to energy.gov and click on The Energy Bill and You).
Where Is That Air Coming From: Replacing old windows with airtight ones may also qualify you for that tax break and can cut heat loss from your home in half. But, if you can't afford to buy new windows this year there are some cheaper alternatives that can still save you up to 10 percent annually. Check for leaks around windows and doors by holding a lit candle (you can also buy power/smoke tester at your local retailer) in front of your window if the flame flickers, you need to find the leak and seal it. For an easy fix, apply peel-and stick weather stripping, available at any hardware store. If you have some really leaky windows consider buying a plastic insulation kit (they sell anywhere from $3 to $8) now your window will not will the Better Home & Gardens Award, but it'll block the cold and reduce your heating costs. Easy solution...
Fill Those Gaps: Getting rid of leaks can save you $$ on your annual heating bill. You should do a whole house inspection not just windows and doors. Holes, gaps around pipes, cracks, dryer vents, fixtures, and outside outlets can be a substantial source of heat loss, take a look around the house fill in any cracks with silicone or acrylic caulks. For larger cracks/ spaces (more than a half inch) use a spray-type sealant-a can of latex foam filler it will do the job nicely. (Don't forget that the foam will expand as it dries, so don't go over board filling the gaps).
Duct Those Joints: It's funny how most of us use duct tape for everything, but its intended purpose. You know the heating/cooling ducts that run through the basement, attics and crawl spaces. Well grab that duct tape by tapping off all those seams and leaks you can find will keep your heated/cooled air from escaping in turn your heating/cooling system will not have to work as hard. The results you can shave several degrees off your thermostat setting and still feel just as warm. The Department of Energy estimates that leaky ducts can increase heating and cooling costs by hundreds of dollars a year. (Lots of money to be saved here)
Get Your Degree: Lowering your water heater's setting from a very HOT 140 degree Fahrenheit to a just HOT enough 120 degrees can save you nearly $50 a year. You can save another 10 percent by wrapping your hot water tank in a $15/$20 insulating blanket. To be on the safe side, check with the heater's manufacturer to see if your unit can be wrapped (A word of caution, insulating blankets are not recommended for gas heater.)
My Feet Are Cold: Do you sit in your favorite room reading or watching TV and your feet get cold you can feel that cold air. "Well Let's Stop It". Rooms can lose heat through electrical outlets and light switches on outside walls, because the spaces behind them are usually un-insulated. To solve the problem, make a trip down to the local hardware supplier and pick up some precut outlet gaskets, they cost only a few dollars per eight-pack. They are fairly easy to install, (Do read the direction before starting.). Simply remove the screw from the outlet plate, fit the insulating foam gaskets on the back of the outlet cover, and replace it. Repeat for the switch covers as well. Pretty Easy...
Know Watt's - Watt: One easy cost savings is to replace your light bulbs with new compact fluorescents (CFLs) they use almost 75 percent less energy than conventional incandescent bulb providing 100 watts of illumination for only 32 watts of power. They will vary depending on what watt bulb you purchase. Replacing just five of your most frequently used bulbs with fluorescents can lower your electric bill by more than $50 annually.
Up-Grade Those Appliances: New model washers, refrigerators, and other home appliances that sport the Environmental Protection Agency's Energy Star insignia are major energy savers. Next time you're at Lowe's, Home Depot or your favorite appliance store, take a look. I know we have all seen them one time or the other, but we probably never really bothered to read them, take a look. The average Energy Star appliance uses up to 50 percent less energy than one made a decade ago. That translates into substantial savings on your electric bill about $20 in annual operating costs for a dishwasher, $55 for a fridge, and a whopping $110 for a washing machine.
Damper it Down: Ah!! Sitting down in front of a nice fire is a great way to relax and get warm, but in the long run it usually will not save you any money on heating dollars. In fact, they could go up in smoke if you fail to close the damper once the fire has gone out. If you feel a chill in front of your fireplace when it's not in use check to make sure the damper is fully closed. If it is, and you still feel a draft your damper may not seal properly, get your damper checked by a professional in the office season. Consider installing a set of glass doors they help save on energy and look great too.
Where's Honey: Lowering your thermostat by roughly 10 percent (for instance, from 73 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit) for eight hours a day can save approximately 10 percent off your heating bill. There is another very inexpensive way to stay warm merely adding a sweater or additional article of clothing, but for most this is not appealing at all. This one can even perk up your marriage or relationship, before going to bed turn down the thermostat and cuddle under a down comforter or an electric blanket.
Flip The Fan: Here's another great heat saver, did you know that by reversing your ceiling fan in the winter can actually keep you warm for less. It will re-circulate warm air which rises to the ceiling, recycling heat back into the room (try the lowest setting). The fan costs only pennies a day to operate-and for every degree it allows you to turn down the thermostat you should save and estimated 5 percent on your total heating bill. And you though that fan was just for those hot muggy nights!
Energy Audits Are Good: Try the Home Energy Saver program at http://hes.lbl.gov it lets you plug in information about your home's age, square footage, and other details to gauge its energy efficiency. Or you can check with your local energy supplier and ask them to conduct heat-loss checks via infrared cameras and blower door testing. (Check on the cost as they will vary from state to state) Usually, an energy audit costs from $25 to $400, and some energy companies offer free audits for low-income households.
Hope this will help you to save, on your Heating and A/C costs in the future.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
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