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Energy Education

Help keep more money in your pocket with some easy ways to keep the cold out and the heat inside your home.

Courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens®

Trimming your energy bill and fuel consumption can mean more money for other areas of your life. Statistics show that fuel costs are rising and the total cost for heating a home during the winter can climb to $900. So be proactive and curb those costs.

Energy Education

You can incorporate some quick upgrades and additions before the snow begins to fall. By simply sealing cracks and filling holes, you’ll prevent drafts and make a significant dent in those bills. Check out these areas and see if a little home improvement will improve your bottom line.

  • See if exterior doors close tightly. Do they sag? Do they rub their door frames? Are latch plates or hinges loose? If the answer is "yes" to any of these questions, spend some sweat equity to straighten the way your doors hang.
  • Replace worn-out weatherstripping. To see if it's time to replace, try this test: hold up a piece of tissue near any cracks. If the tissue blows around -- you have cracks that need sealing. Add weatherstripping around doors; foam sealant may do the trick for hard-to-reach cracks. If you can't find exact replacements, spring plastic strips, V-strips, or tubular gaskets make good alternatives. Also, check with your local utility companies; some will provide free weatherstripping to help tighten up your home.
  • Repair air leaks around windows. On a windy day, use a lighted candle to find air infiltration. Make sure storm windows are in place. Fix broken caulk around window exterior. On old leaky windows, consider using plastic sheet insulator kits.
  • Examine your foundation for signs of termites.  A deteriorated foundation will probably have cracks, air leaks, and drafts. Add foam sealant to cracks.

Interior To-Dos

In addition to tightening up your home's exterior, you can also make a difference in energy efficiency with a few interior adjustments:

 

  • Insulate water pipes in unheated areas to protect against freezing and to save energy. Insulation can be as basic, and as inexpensive, as newspaper bundled around the pipes and tied with string. But it's better to wrap pipes with insulation tape or to encase pipes with perforated plastic foam. While tape tends to be less expensive than plastic foam, it's more time consuming to apply. Two other options include standard blanket insulation wrapped with duct tape or an insulating liquid, which can be messy. If you're extremely concerned that a particular pipe will freeze, wrap it with an electric heat cable, which prevents freezing even with icy temperatures of 20 degrees or more below zero. This option uses a good deal of electricity and can be costly.
  • Clean up your fireplace and chimney. Before winter has you reaching for some seasoned logs, hire a chimney sweep to inspect your chimney flue and clean it if necessary. Make sure the flue's seal is good -- a drafty chimney is a wintertime no-no.
  • Have your furnace checked. Don't let temperatures plunge before a professional heating contractor inspects your oil-burning unit, heat pump, or radiator (annually) or your gas-fired or electric furnace (every two to three years). In addition, ask the inspector how you can best maintain your system year-round.
  • Have your water heater's tank pressure and temperature relief valve inspected. You should also drain off water through the valve at the bottom of the tank until no sediment shows. Be sure to lower the temperature of the thermostat several hours before doing this to avoid scalds.

 

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