Increase Comfort and Save Money Through Conservation & Air Sealing
Energy Saving Tips from SERG "Where Efficiency Makes $ense"
More than half of residential energy use goes to heating and cooling our homes. For many homes, simple free or inexpensive conservation and air sealing measures are the most cost effective means of increasing comfort, reducing heat loss and saving money. Warm air rises and flows out opening high in the home, pulling cold are in areas low in the home. To find the leaks on cold days, feel for cool drafts coming in low areas of the home. Hold something that smokes, like incense, along potential high openings, looking for air being sucked out. Attic access, plumbing and wiring penetrations, recessed and flush-mounted ceiling light fixtures, around exterior doors and windows, and where the sill meets the foundation are some of the biggest leaks. Seal all openings with spray foam, caulk or weather-stripping. Preventing heat loss through weatherization usually pays for itself in one to five years depending on how extensive your efforts and whether you are doing the work yourself. Hire a Home Performance with ENERGY STAR (HPwES) contractor to help you make even bigger savings. For more specific information on weatherizing windows see this handout.
- Close interior doors and turn off the heat to any rooms that are unused during the winter. Make sure lowering temperature does not freeze pipes or cause condensation.
- Reduce heating fuel use about 1% for each degree you lower your thermostat for 8 hours/day. So lowering temps 10 degrees for 16 hours each day (while sleeping and at work) would cut your fuel use by about 20%. Using a programmable thermostat to do this will allow you to bring the heat back up to a comfortable temperature before you get up in the morning or return home.
- Weather-strip all exterior doors, including attic hatch, bulkhead door and doors to cold cellars and crawl spaces. Check and replace weather stripping when worn.
- If your exterior doors jiggle when closed or if you can see daylight around edges of a closed door, move the striker/latch plate closer to the weatherstrip so the door closes snuggly against it or add new weather stripping that snugs up against the door.
- Install storm windows and doors. Close and latch storm windows and doors tightly.
- Caulk closed all leaky windows and exterior doors that you never open.
- Close chimney and fireplace dampers when not in use. If chimney is unused, install an inflatable chimney pillow or caulked-in foam plug to better seal.
- Cover leaky windows that you do want to open in the spring with an interior plastic "storm" product, like Tyz-All, available at Energy Federation Inc. (800-876-0660, www.efi.org). Tyz-All can be removed in the spring and reused next winter. It will usually pay for itself in one year.
- Make sure all ventilation fans (dryer, bathroom, rangehood, etc.) vent to the exterior and have a flap that closes tightly when the fan is off. Clear vent flaps of lint and other debris so they close tightly.
- If you can feel and heat coming off your hot water tank or hot water pipes, cover them with an insulated tank wrap jacket or foam pipe insulation available at your local hardware store or Energy Federation Inc. (800-876-0660, www.efi.org).
- Turn your hot water on and let it run for a couple of minutes. If it is then too hot to hold your hand under the water, turn the thermostat on your hot water tank down to 120°.
NOTE: Homes do require a certain amount of fresh air to keep occupants healthy and for proper ventilation of natural draft appliances. Mold build up and back drafting of flu gases can occur in extremely tight houses without adequate ventilation, which can cause illness or death. Fresh air is best supplied in a controlled manner through powered and programmed fresh air vents. SERG or other Home Performance with ENERGY STAR contractors can perform a blower door test to make sure you have adequate ventilation. For more information contact SERG or see our Home Performance Assessment Services.