Monday, May 16, 2011

Home Energy Efficiency - Reduce Heating & Cooling Energy Use

Heating & cooling our homes consumes about 44% of our energy usage.  That's a huge chunk to consider, and therefore the first thing to look at when reducing our energy consumption.  The first thing we want to look at is not how we add heat or cold into our homes, but rather how well our home hold it in.  Doors & windows are the number one escape route for air from your home.  Of course, old inefficient doors & windows can be replaced, but short of that, look for air flow around them.  Light and hold an incense stick near the edges of the casings.  If you have a good seal, the smoke will gently rise, but if air is escaping or drafts are entering, the smoke will follow the flow of this air.  Use a quality caulking to seal both the inside and outside of the casings to close these gaps.  Replace any worn or damaged weather stripping with an appropriate product.  Ask your local hardware clerk what to use and if possible, bring a sample of what was there to begin with.  On the exterior, take a walk around of your home and look for cracks or gaps in the siding, especially on the corners. Again, use caulk to fill the gaps or for larger voids, expanding foam insulation can be used.  We all know that heat rises, therefore, take a look in your attic at the insulation.  Chances are there could be more.  Fiberglass insulating bats or loose fill insulation is easy to add and greatly helps hold in the heat.  If you have a orced air heating & cooling system, inspect your ductwork looking for leaky joints and other gaps.  Your incense stick will come in handy here too.  Use duct tape(the real stuff, not that grey roll you find everywhere)to seal the gaps and consider wrapping them with an appropriate insulation to help prevent heat from dissipating into the air around them.  In winter, old windows can be covered in a plastic sheet that is then shrunk to a tight fit with a hair dryer.  Every hardware store will be selling these in the fall at little cost.  Remember to turn down your heat or AC at night or when you are away from home.  Programmable thermostats are great ideas for the forgetful. Ceiling fans will help circulate air throughout the house helping to reduce cold or hot spots.  Don't forget to check out incentive programs.  Many governments, and some energy companies will subsidize energy efficient upgrades to your home.  Remember,  it is more important to keep the conditioned air in your home than the method of conditioning it in the first place, but if your furnace or AC unit fails and must be replaced, take the opportunity to replace it wit an energy efficient model.


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