With the predicted escalation in home utility costs this winter, all homeowners want to save energy and money where possible.
When you locate areas where energy can escape from your home, decide what it will take to repair it. Remember that many utility companies will do an audit to determine your home's energy problems for free.
Insulation helps to save money and energy. It works to keep the cold out in the winter and the heat out in the summer. Insulation helps to increase comfort by maintaining uniform temperature and reducing moisture problems. It is especially important to check the level of insulation if your home is old and you haven't added any insulation.
Places to look for insulation are exterior walls, ceilings, attics crawl spaces and basements. The easiest and most affordable way to add more insulation is in the attic. To find out if there is enough, go to the attic and measure the thickness of the insulation. Check that the thickness of insulation meets the recommended levels. Here in Georgia, the typical recommended insulation thickness is R-49 for attic, R-18 for walls, and R-25 for floors.
Weatherize your home as much as possible. Seal all openings in the shell of your home with caulk, mastic, spray-foam or weather stripping. Seal the cracks and gaps in framing along with the holes for plumbing, mechanical equipment, and electrical outlets. Weather-strip doors and windows and seal ductwork with mastic.
Reduce drafts coming from windows by installing storm windows or using a plastic window insulating kit sold at hardware stores. Better, yet, replace your old windows with low-energy windows.
To quickly determine if your home has an air leak, hold a lit incense stick near a closed window or door. If the smoke travels horizontally, level with the floor, there is an air leak.
When you are not using the fireplace the damper should always be closed; it allows heat or conditioned air from your home to escape. If your fireplace does not have a damper, cover the fireplace opening with a snug fitting cover.
Confirm that all bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans vent to the outside, not just into the attic. Soffit, ridge and mechanical vents in the attic allow hot air to escape and keep your ceiling cooler. Power attic vents are not advisable; however, whole house fans can be efficient in the spring and fall.
In the cold months, lower the thermostat to 68 degrees during the day and 60 degrees at night. During the hot months of the year, raise your thermostat setting to 74 degrees and use fans to make your home more comfortable.
Purchase home appliances what the EPA Energy Star label, an energy efficiency rating for the most efficient appliances. If you are purchasing a new home, look for a home that has the Energy Star label.