As summer is now officially over we are all starting to feel the cold weather approaching, which means your heating costs will be susceptible to increase. Of course, there are ways that you can limit costs and save energy during the wintertime. There are some efficient ways that you can save energy as the season starts to change. At the end of the day it is the simple choices that homeowners make that will result in the biggest impact. Here are some that you can use that will save you energy and money.
Replacing worn weatherstripping. Worn and torn weatherstripping around doors and windows creates drafts and lets in cold air. Seven to 12 percent of a home’s heat loss occurs around windows and doors, and these leaks often prompt homeowners to turn up their furnace to maintain comfort. Even if they don’t turn it up, they’re losing warm air, causing the furnace to work harder. Weatherstripping around doors, and caulking around doors and windows, can cut down on drafts. Some weatherstripping needs to be replaced every few years because of wear. Replacing it is typically as simple as pulling off the old and tacking on the new.
Adjusting door thresholds. If you can see daylight under your front door, then you’re losing the indoor air you’ve paid to heat. If the door is not in contact with the threshold, the air is going right under the door. Some thresholds have four or five screws that let you adjust the height to eliminate a gap. Turn the screws counterclockwise to lift the threshold until daylight is mostly gone. A little light in the corners is okay, but don’t raise the threshold so high that it interferes with opening and closing the door. And the door shouldn’t drag on the threshold or it’ll wear out the weatherstripping.
Avoid drafts around electrical boxes. Electrical boxes in your exterior walls are notoriously drafty because insulation isn’t always placed behind and around them correctly. You want to try to stop air from flowing around the box and through the box. To stop the leaks, remove the cover plates and fill small gaps around the boxes with acrylic latex caulk. For large gaps, use foam sealant. Then place a foam gasket over the outlet or switch and replace the cover plate. The gasket is going to save you money for as long as that outlet is in your house. That small investment pays off for as long as you own your home.
Purchase a portable heater and turn down your furnace. Put a space heater in the place where your family gathers, like the living room, and turn down the furnace temperature. The rest of the house will be cooler but you’ll be warm, and you can save 3 percent on your heating costs for every degree below 70 F that you turn down the furnace. You’ll see those savings all winter long. Of course, you have to buy the heater and use electricity, which cuts into the overall savings. Portable heaters start at about $30, and an electric heater that uses 1500 watts will cost you 14 cents per hour. Still, the savings from reducing the furnace temperature should offset the cost of using the space heater and then some.
Insulate the attic access door. Even in well-insulated attics, the access door may not be properly insulated, letting warm air escape through the attic hatch. And if the door is warped or something obstructs the opening, then the door won’t lie flat, allowing air to leak into the attic. You don’t want any air going up the access. You want to make sure the door is insulated, and you want to make sure it forms a good seal. To ensure that the door blocks airflow, use adhesive to attach fiberglass batt insulation to the attic side of the door. And if the door won’t lie flat, use a latch bolt system to close it tight.
Last, but not least you might want to consider upgrading your thermostat. One of the newest and hottest ones on the market right now is the nest. The Nest learns your lifestyle—when you’re gone, when you’re asleep—and adjusts itself accordingly to save you money, all without you having to spend time manually programming it. Oh, and don’t believe the oft-repeated notion that the furnace has to work harder to warm up the house after the temperature is set low, which would negate your savings. It’s a myth. You do save money.
If homeowners use these tips, it is evident that energy and money will be saved. It’s like killing two birds with one stone. Energy Star acclaims this, as In 2014 alone, American families and businesses have saved $34 billion on utility bills and prevented greenhouse gas emissions equal to the annual electricity use of more than 63 million vehicles.