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Ten Energy Saving Tips
by John Anthony

  1. Attic Insulation
  2. Stop Drafts around Doors and Windows
  3. Great Stuff
  4. Efficient Bulbs
  5. Efficient Appliances
  6. Lower Thermostat
  7. Seal Heating Ducts
  8. Lower Hot Water Temperature
  9. Seal Outlets and Switches
  10. Change Ceiling Fan Direction with the Season


Attic Insulation

The top of your house is just like the top of your head - the place where internal heat escapes if it isn't somehow contained. Your head is easy - a hat works just fine. An attic requires something else.

To prevent heat which costs more than ever today from getting out of your home, make sure your attic has the proper amount of insulation. Experts say that an R-value (resistance to the movement of heat) of around 38 is needed in an attic. This translates into about 1 foot of insulation.

Insulation is available loose or in rolls. Most attics have the loose type blown in by a machine that operates like a vacuum cleaner in reverse.

If you have little or no insulation in your attic, putting in the right amount can save up to 25% on heating costs! It will pay for itself in no time and keep you warmer!


Stop Drafts Around Doors and Windows

Small cracks eventually develop around doors and windows over time. The reason for this is the aging and shrinkage of the sealing materials used in them.

A one sixteenth of an inch opening along the bottom of a 32 inch wide window is equivalent to a 2 square inch hole in your wall. You can imagine how much cold air this would let in!

Replacing worn out insulation around doors and windows goes a long way in keeping you and your family warm. Self-sticking, replacement insulation is sold in rolls and is an inexpensive way to keep your heating bills down and your comfort level up!


Great Stuff

Sealing door and window cracks is a big part of the battle against cold air coming in. The cracks and gaps around pipes, vents and outlets that run through the walls of your home can also let in lots of cold air!

Take a walk around your house and fill any cracks with caulk or silicone sealant. For gaps larger than a 1/4 inch a product called Great Stuff works very well. It is a foam that comes in a spray can about the size of a can of spray paint. The foam looks like airy dough as it comes out and can expand up to 50% in size. As it expands it contours to match the area it is filling. It forms a very tight seal and after it cures any excess foam can be trimmed away.

It truly is Great Stuff!


Efficient Light Bulbs

Incandescent bulbs have been with us since Thomas Edison invented them over 100 years ago. They have served us well, but time and technology march on and today Compact Florescent (CFS) are available.

A CFS that consumes 13W produces the same amount of light as a standard 60W light bulb. The same amount of light at one quarter the power is a substantial savings. A CFS has a lifetime of 8000 hours which is about eight times longer than the life of the standard incandescent bulb.

The CFS does cost more than a standard light bulb. A 4-pack of 13W (60W equivalent) CFS bulbs costs about $8 in a big home improvement store. At $2 each they are about four times the cost of good incandescent bulbs. But this is insignificant compared to the annual energy savings of about $37 obtained at 10 cents/KwH by replacing a standard 60W bulb with a 13W CFS bulb!


Efficient Appliances

Technology never rests and new, more efficient home appliances are available that consume on average almost 50% less energy than their older cousins that came out just 10 years ago.

Micro controllers (distant cousins of Pentium processors) dynamically fine tune the operation of motors and pumps so that they achieve the highest possible efficiency.

These high operating efficiencies translate into lower annual operating costs. Here are a few examples of typical annual cost savings: dishwasher - $20, refrigerator - $55, washing machine - $110.


Lower Your Thermostat

Maintaining the temperature of your home at 68F instead of 72F for just 8 hours a day can lower heating cost by 10%.

An automatic thermostat available in most hardware stores will cycle the temperature for you automatically. Once it is done you don't have to even think about it!


Seal Heating Ducts

In our area most people have heat pumps which use forced air for heating and cooling. Older systems may use metal ducts. Newer systems use large flexible insulated tubing. Any leaks in either type of duct work lets hot air escape from the system instead of sending it to the inside of your home where you need it.

Leaks are best sealed up with duct tape which was originally designed to seal up metal duct work!


Lower Hot Water Heater Temperature

I've seen water heaters set at 180F! This is only 42 degrees below the boiling point of water and can cause severe scalding. Imagine being in a shower and losing the cold water feed even for a few moments. You would immediately be sprayed with very hot water! Keeping water that hot all the time uses up costly energy!

The U.S. dept. of Energy recommends 120F temperature at the tap which means a tank temperature of around 130F which is adequate in preventing bacterial growth. Dishwashers require 140F and most have water pre heaters so that you don't have to keep your hot water tank temperature elevated.

Every 10 degrees reduction in hot water temperature translates into 3% to 5% energy savings. Depending on the current setting at your tank you could save a lot of energy!

Putting an insulating blanket around an electric tank prevents heat from escaping and therefore requires less energy than a tank that is always losing heat to a cold environment. Blankets are not recommended for gas heaters and units with automatic dampers. Check with the unit manufacturer if you are not sure.


Stop Drafts Around Outlets and Switches

The openings cut in your wallboard for electrical outlets and light switches can be another source of cold air entering your home.

Inexpensive insulating foam gaskets are available that seal off any air leaks. All that is required is a small slotted screw driver to remove the plates that cover the outlets. The gasket goes on and the is screwed back on over it and you are done!


Change Ceiling Fan Direction with the Season

Ceiling fans can help maintain room temperature as they move air. In summer it is recommended to have them push air downward. In winter it is suggested to have them pull air upward. In both cases they help stabilize room temperature which helps in lowering your overall energy costs!


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PO Box 195
Angier, NC 27501


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