Monday, September 22, 2008

Time to WINTERIZE!

It's starting to get pretty chilly in Vermont, which means it's time to get ready for the long, cold winter ahead. Efficiency Vermont has put together a list of top ten tips for saving energy this winter. Several of these, like plugging the leaks around my front door, are on my to-do list. I'm also planning to get a programmable thermostat! I'll use this list as a guide and post on my progress.
  1. Make Your Home More Efficient. Efficiency Vermont-approved Home Performance with ENERGY STAR contractors can perform an energy audit on your home and install the recommended improvements, such as air sealing and insulation. Find a contractor and learn about financing options at www.efficiencyvermont.com/homeperformance. Low-income Vermonters can get similar services for free - learn more at www.helpforvt.org.
  2. Lower the Thermostat. Each degree a thermostat is turned down (around the clock) in the winter equates to a cost savings of roughly three percent on your energy bill. Turning a thermostat back from 72º to 65º for eight hours a day can save as much as 10 percent on annual heating and cooling costs. Try lowering the thermostat when nobody is home, or just before going to bed. Programmable thermostats can help to manage your home’s temperature by consistently changing the setting whenever you want—even if you are asleep or at work. I'm pretty stingy when it comes to heat (hence my large collection of hoodies!), and Roger's a great little space heater. I also plan to install a programmable thermostat this winter.
  3. Plug Up Air Leaks. Focus on plugging air leaks in the attic, where warm air escapes, and in the basement, where cold air enters the home. If you’re handy, use expanding foam to seal larger holes and caulk to seal small gaps. You can also save more by adding insulation in the attic. There’s more information on air sealing and insulating at www.efficiencyvermont.com/homeheating. Or find a professional to help at www.efficiencyvermont.com/homeperformance. One trick for finding leaks is to use a lit stick of incense - the drafts will disturb the smoke!
  4. Heat Only Space You Use. Close off unneeded rooms, but ensure water pipes have adequate insulation or heat and don't freeze.
  5. Let the Sun Shine In. Open the window shades on the south and west side of the house during the day to maximize the warmth of the sun, and close them at night. I've got two great south-facing windows, and I'm researching the most energy-efficient blinds to invest in.
  6. Fix Drafty Windows and Doors. Caulk around window frames and use weather stripping and door sweeps on doors. Properly adjusted window-sash locks will ensure that windows are properly shut. Use storm windows and put up interior window plastic, available in kits at hardware stores. I need to get some weather stripping - there's a leak at the top of my front door!
  7. Clean Up. Keep the area near registers, radiators, air returns and baseboards clear and dust-free. Vacuum or dust radiators and baseboards often and be sure they’re not blocked by furniture and carpets. Heat needs to circulate to reach all areas of the house, especially with a forced-air system. I kept this in mind when I was first arranging my furniture. I do have some cleaning to do in the spare room before the heat starts flowing though.
  8. Close Dampers When You're Not Using The Fireplace. An open fireplace damper pulls warm air (air you’ve paid to heat) from the house, even when there is no fire. And, if possible, avoid or reduce the use of traditional masonry fireplaces, which tend to be much less efficient than other heating devices.
  9. Tune Up Your Equipment. If your heating or hot water equipment has not been serviced recently, make sure it is cleaned and adjusted to operate as efficiently and safely as possible. I want to look into putting a layer of insulation around my hot water heater, but I don't know how to tell if I need it or not.
  10. Save Electricity. Replace your standard incandescent light bulbs with ENERGY STAR compact fluorescent bulbs. For information about which bulbs work best where and how much you can save, visit http://www.newbulbintown.com/. When purchasing new appliances, be sure to select models with the ENERGY STAR. Small appliances and home office equipment use power even when they're “off”. Plug TVs, VCRs, fax machines, computers, printers, etc. into a power strip and just turn them off. I have started replacing all of the MANY bulbs in my new house with CFLs. I'm also looking into dimmable CFLs, since the bedrooms and living room fixtures need them. All of my entertainment equipment (TV, DVD player, computer) are plugged into a power strip that I flip off every morning before work.

2 comments:

Veronica said...

Great Blog! I'll check it all the time!
- Veronica
www.designsprout.com

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