28 Oct Going Green this Winter
Reduce Heating Bills
The following tips are to help save on those heating bills without giving your home a major renovation:
- Weatherize – First, test your home for air tightness. The U.S. Department of Energy recommends lighting an incense stick on a windy day and holding it next to your windows, doors, electrical boxes, plumbing fixtures and other places where there is a possible air path to the outside. If the smoke travels horizontally, you have located an air leak. Seal up these holes, weather-strip doors and insulate attic floors. And, when the fireplace is not in use, keep the damper closed tightly.
- Insulate – Don’t just insulate your attic. The Department of Energy calculates that 10 to 25 percent of a heating bill goes out the window, literally. Insulation is measured in R-values and the higher the R-value, the better a window resists the transfer of heat. A single layer of uncovered window glass has an R-value of about 1, while a typical double-glazed window (two panes of glass or with a storm window) has an R-value of around 2. By selecting an energy-efficient window treatment, you can increase the R-value one to four points.
Honeycomb shades with three layers of honeycomb pleats more than double the energy efficiency of a double-glazed window and nearly quadruple the efficiency of a single pane of glass with a very high insulating R-value of 4.8 (on double-glazed windows).
- Improve and maintain your mechanical systems – Make sure your gas or oil furnace is serviced and cleaned at least once a year and change or clean furnace filters often during heating season. Also, clean warm-air registers, baseboard heaters and radiators as needed.
And, replace your thermostat with a programmable one that allows you to set temperatures at different times of the day. Turning the heat down from 72 to 65 degrees for at least eight hours a day can reduce heating bills by 10 percent. Setting the thermostat all the way up only increases your heating costs.
- Watch Your Windows – For the rare sunny day, open your shades to help heat the house with the sun, but be sure to close them at night. Also, keep the windows on the south side of your house clean to ensure maximum solar gain.
- Landscape – Let Mother Nature work for you. Trees that lose their leaves in the fall permit winter sunlight to reach and warm your house. Plant deciduous trees on the south and east sides of your home. Stop chilling winter winds by planting evergreen trees and shrubs on the north and west sides.