According to the U. S. Department of Energy, the typical family spends almost $1,300 a year on their home’s utility bill. You can lower your energy bill by 10 to 50 percent with simple and inexpensive improvements that button up your house to keep cold air out and warm air inside.
Rearrange furniture so it doesn’t cover the cold air returns in the floor, allowing heated air to flow freely. In sunny side rooms open draperies and raise shades during the day to let Mother Nature heat the space. Use a heavy window shade or drapery to keep cold air out in north-facing rooms, and, when you’re not using a fireplace, close the damper.
Seal it up
Inspect the condition of weather-stripping around doors and windows and replace the material when it’s old and worn. Also, check weather-stripping on a door or access panel to an unheated attic, crawl space or attached garage.
Look at the thresholds of all exterior doors. The gap between the bottom of the door and the threshold should be tightly sealed with a gasket in the threshold or on the bottom of the door. If you can see light or feel a draft, replace the gasket.
If you feel cold air coming from electrical outlets or receptacles on exterior walls, remove the plate covers and insert an inexpensive foam switch and wallplate sealer that reduces the draft.
At the first sign of cold weather, install storm windows or replace screens with storm panels in combination storm doors and windows.
To seal a drafty old window, try this quick fix. Get an inexpensive interior storm window kit, which has enough plastic sheeting and double-faced tape to cover the average-size window. Apply the tape around the window, press the plastic film in place and use a hair dryer to shrink the film for a clear, tight fit.
Use a foam sealant to fill the gaps and cracks around joints in the siding, electrical outlets and water spigots on the exterior of your house, and replace old caulk around window frames with a cartridge of quality caulk.
If you plan to replace windows, a furnace, heat pump or appliances, look for the Energy Star label on the product to assure that it meets energy efficiency standards.
If the loose fill insulation in your attic isn’t 12 inches deep, add rolls of poly-wrapped fiberglass insulation. Cut the rolls to size with a heavy scissors and lay the pieces on top of the existing insulation.
Have an annual tuneup by a heating professional for an oil-fired unit and at least every other year for a gas-fired unit. Remember to clean or replace air filters in a forced air system once a month to keep it running efficiently.
Lower your thermostat
According to the Alliance to Save Energy, you can expect to save about 3 percent on your winter heating bill for each degree you lower your thermostat. Get a programmable thermostat and set it to automatically lower the heat at night and when no one is home and raise it in the morning or before the family returns home.
Find more ideas about conserving energy at home at these websites: Alliance to Save Energy (www.ase.org), U.S. Department of Energy (www.energysavers.gov), and EPA’s Energy Star Program (www.energystar.gov).