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Is Your Home Ready for Winter?

Drop Your Home Heating Bills With Our Six Energy-Saving Tips

Drop Your Home Heating Bills With Our Six Energy-Saving Tips

 

Each winter we tell ourselves the same thing. This year will be different, this year the house will be ready, this year we will make the investment in time, energy, and money needed to make our home more comfortable, lower our heating bills, and reduce the carbon footprint of our family. After all, our home is our largest single investment, and we want it to perform that way.

 

Efficiency involves peak performance with minimal waste. The following weatherization tips are based on proven building science and can have a significant impact on the overall comfort of your home this winter:

 

1)    Seal penetrations in the ceilings of your upper floors:  One of the most effective steps to reducing overall energy consumption is to seal penetrations in the ceilings leading to your attic. Examples of this include the recessed lights penetrating the ceilings of your home. These penetrations provide a convenient escape route for warm air to escape from your home. Recessed lights can be sealed by purchasing covers designed for this purpose. 

 

Also, many homes have pull-down attic stairs or an attic hatch providing access to the attic above. Adding weatherstripping and insulation to these areas can dramatically reduce the amount of warm air escaping through these areas.

 

2)    Seal basement penetrations:  As warm air escapes through the upper regions of your home, it pulls outside air into your home through the basement. Sealing penetrations in your foundation with spray-foam insulation will prevent outside air from being pulled into your home. Many basements have older doors. Consider using caulk, foam, and weatherstripping to create a tight seal around these areas.

 

3)    Examine the exterior of your home:  Most of us subscribe to a variety of services which get piped into our home. These services include cable, phone, electricity, internet, gas, water, oil, and security services. Each of these services was installed by a technician who was probably not thinking about the overall energy-efficiency of your home and left behind dozens of penetrations that can be easily sealed with caulk or foam. Sealing these penetrations will prevent moisture, insects, critters, and unconditioned air from entering your home.

 

4)    Evaluate your windows and doors:  Replacing your windows is not always necessary to improve their energy efficiency. For instance, if you have original single-pane windows, adding a thermal window insert, such as Indow Windows, to prevent heat-loss can make energy savings comparable to much more expensive replacement windows while preserving the architectural heritage of your home. Thermal inserts are reusable year after year, can be used in front of double-pane windows as well and offer an attractive alternative to disposable plastic film barriers. The addition of a simple door-sweep and weatherstripping can dramatically increase the efficiency of older doors.

 

5)    Examine your mechanical equipment:  Older furnaces and water heaters consume excessive amounts of fossil fuel in comparison to many of the energy-efficient versions available today. New Jersey has one of the best incentive programs in the country to help replace these units with more efficient versions. If replacing these units is out of the question, make sure you change your filters regularly and have a “clean & tune” performed on your unit to ensure it is running properly and efficiently.

 

6)    Have a home energy assessment performed:  A professional home energy assessment will provide you with specific information about how your home looses or wastes energy. During a home energy assessment, a professional uses sophisticated equipment and software to diagnose specific issues that are often difficult for a homeowner to uncover on their own. At the conclusion of your assessment, you should receive a report outlining issues uncovered during the assessment, measures recommended to increase the efficiency of your home, and rebates and incentives available to help you pay for these measures. Select a Building Performance Institute Accredited Contractor to ensure they have the qualifications and standards necessary to provide you with a high-quality assessment.

 

Scott Fischer is a Home Performance Consultant with Ciel Power LLC.  Ciel Power LLC is a One-Source Solution providing New Jersey Residents with Home Energy Assessments, Air-Sealing, Insulation, HVAC Services, Energy Efficient Lighting, & Technology.  Contact Ciel Power LLC at www.cielpower.com or 201-632-3463 for additional information.

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Frank M. January 23, 2013 at 07:10 PM
All great tips! Here's what we found through the years. The biggest misconception is to lower our thermostat all the way down when we leave our home. It actually causes an increase in energy useage. The heating unit has to run longer to play catch up. You will save energy if you only lower the thermostat no greater than 5-degrees below what you normally have your thermostat set at. Automatic set back thermostats can do this for you automatically.

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