It is no secret that energy prices have been high all year but thankfully have dropped quite a bit as we head into the Winter months. There are of course plenty of things you can do to save additional $$$ and conserve energy this Winter. Some are fairly obvious and easy.
Here are some of the easiest energy saving tips for your home:
Turn back the thermostat - Kind of a no brainer but here is my suggestion...Upgrade to a programmable thermostat and set the temperature down during the time when you are not home. For me it is easy because I am at work selling Real Estate all day.
The temperature in my home automatically goes down to 60 degrees at 11 p.m at night and stays that way until 5 p.m the next day when I get home. So between 5 p.m and 11 p.m when I am usually around the temperature moves up to a comfortable 70 degrees.
As an additional thought if you have a multi zone system I would also suggest that you may want to keep the area of your home where you sleep a little bit warmer than the rest of the home. For example if you have forced hot air and your bedrooms are on the 2nd floor there is no sense in keeping the downstairs the same temperature as the bedroom area. Have your thermostat set to go down at night on the 1st floor.
Close the fireplace damper - This is one that I often forget about. There is quite a bit of heat that can get lost going up and out the chimney.
Give your heating system a tune up - Proper maintenance is vital to keeping your heating system running most efficiently. Make sure that you have your heating system cleaned and inspected at least once a year, especially if you are using oil as a fuel source. During the heating season make sure that the filters are changed once a month.
Fill the gaps with weather stripping and caulking - make sure all your doors and windows are tight. Just the other day I noticed a draft coming from the interior door leading to the garage. I had not noticed that the weather stripping was missing. You can pick up an item like this at Home Depot or Lowe's for under ten dollars. If you have a home with older windows make sure you caulk and gaps. Using the locks also provides for a tighter and less draft resistant fix.
Window air conditioners - If you home is not cooled by central air and you are using a window air conditioner make sure that all the gaps between the window and exterior have been filled. This is a notorious problem for air penetration.
Add additional insulation to the home - Add additional insulation to your attic, basement and outside walls. This can be done either with insulation batts or with blown in cellulose.
Keep furniture away from vents - If you have furniture blocking your vents you will drastically cut the efficiency of the heating system. In one of the rooms in my home I happen to have long draperies. This can be a problem as well if they are not tied back. Keeping your drapes away from blocking the vents is an important consideration.
Keep the vents clean - Make sure you keep your baseboard, radiators and registers dust and dirt free. This will not only have a drag on efficiency but who wants to breath crummy air. If you have a forced hot air system over the years it is easy to accumulate dust and debris. If you live in the Metrowest Massachusetts area and need a duct cleaning I would recommend Duct Z. They are a national outfit and may be located near you as well.
Seal your duct work - If you have FHA (forced hot air) make sure the ducts are properly sealed. Over time the tape used to seal openings and joints can start to open or even fall off.
Unplug appliances not in use - Guys I know this one is difficult but if money is real tight I would suggest unplugging the beer fridge in the basement or garage. Having an extra refrigerator is a big drain on energy consumption. Things like extra televisions and other household appliances that do not get use often should also get unplugged. These appliances although are not being used still drain energy and cost you money. The term often used to describe this is "leaking energy". Look at the electrical meter on your house before and after doing this and see what I mean.
Clean the refrigerator coils - Once a year you should vacuum or clean the fridge coils especially if you have a pet. Dirt, dust and pet hair on the coils will impede air flow and make the heat transfer less efficient forcing the appliance to work harder. It is estimated that dirty coils can cut the energy use by 6%. This would save around 15$ per year on an older fridge.
Turn off bath fans - After taking a shower make sure the bath fan does not stay on longer than necessary. This is an opportunity for heat to get sucked out of a home.
Turn down water heater temperature - In most homes the water temperature set on a water heater is between 130-145 degrees. Setting the temp back to 120 is more than enough for a hot shower. It is estimated that a 10 degree temperature reduction can reduce water heating costs by 5%. Lowering the temperature by 20 degrees could save the average family around 50$ per year.
Low flow shower heads - Install low flow shower heads to conserve heated water. Also keeping the time in the shower down also helps.
Wrap the water heater - You can buy a water heater wrap at most hardware stores or Home Depot for around 25$. The blanket will pay for itself in a year and offer saving after that. According to the Department of Energy this will save the average household around 4-9% of their annual total water heating costs (around 12$-48$ for most homes.)
Purchase energy star products - Energy Star Products are much more efficient and designed to save energy. For example an Energy Star fridge uses about 20% less energy than a standard refrigerator. Over time the saving can add up.
Open shades and curtains - Opening shades and curtains on the South side of the home is something that will give you a little something extra on those sunny days with a solar effect. Remember to close them at night to help keep the heat inside.
Interested in getting an Energy Star Audit on your home? Visit the Energy Star Audit website to get an evaluation done on your home. This could really help you save some $$$.
Here is a state by state Energy Star directory to find out if Home Performance with Energy Star is offered near you.
The above information on energy saving tips for the Winter months was provided by Bill Gassett, the team leader for the #4 RE/MAX Team in Massachusetts in 2007. Bill can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 508-435-5356. Bill has helped people move in and out of many Metrowest towns for the last 22+ Years. Bill's office is conveniently located in the center of Hopkinton MA at 77 Main Street.
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I service the following towns in Metrowest Massachusetts: Hopkinton, Milford, Upton, Southboro, Westboro, Ashland, Holliston, Mendon, Hopedale, Medway, Grafton, Northbridge, Uxbridge, Franklin, Douglas, and Framingham MA.
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Building lasting relationships by helping people move in and out of Metrowest Massachusetts for the last 22 years.
Bill Gassett is a thirty-two year veteran to the real estate industry. He enjoys providing helpful information to buyers, sellers and fellow real estate agents to make sound decisions. His work has been featured on RIS Media, National Association of Realtors, Inman News, Placester, RESAAS, Credit Sesame and others.