Tuesday, September 27, 2016

How to Reduce Winter Energy Bills



Aside from those who play the part of Ebenezer Scrooge in a Christmas Carol, no one should be forced to wear a night cap to bed because their home is too cold. But as the fall and winter months bring chilly temps to many parts of the country, some will do whatever it takes to offset rising energy bills.

Wearing your heaviest winter parka, gloves and a stocking cap around the house at all times is one method. There are also several other less-cumbersome ways — ranging from small adjustments to major modifications — to stay warm and use less energy.

Here are some basic tips to stay comfortable and keep costs down this winter:

Hello? Anyone home?
If there are generally long periods of time throughout the day when no one is home, adjust your thermostat accordingly to limit the amount of wasted heat. This can be done manually each day if you have a good memory and you’re the last one out the door. If not, consider the benefits of installing a smart thermostat that will automatically monitor interior temps, keeping your house cozy when it counts and saving energy when everyone’s away.

The selection of smart thermostats is continually expanding. Many smart thermostats feature online calculators that show approximately how much users will save based on their region, size of home and heating type. In many cases, the investment results in significant savings over time.   

Mind the Gaps
By sealing air leaks in a home, an average household can cut 10 percent of their monthly energy bill. Use caulk to seal any cracks or small openings on non-moving surfaces such as where window frames meet the house structure. Check your weatherstripping in exterior door frames and replace any that is deteriorated or cracked.

Sealing windows and doors will help, but the worst culprits are may be utility cut-throughs for pipes (plumping penetrations), gaps around recessed lights, and unfinished spaces behind cupboards and closets. Do-it-yourselfers can buy material that expands to fill the gaps and prevent air from escaping.

Going Beyond D-I-Y
The best way to know exactly what will reduce your home’s overall energy consumption is to hire a professional energy auditor to evaluate your home and identify any inefficiencies. In addition to showing you where to tape, caulk and seal, the auditor might also suggest improvements that would require a professional. Adding attic insulation, upgrading to an energy-efficient HVAC system, or installing high-performance windows are sizeable investments, but they can have a dramatic impact on your home’s air quality, energy efficiency and overall comfort.