A few small steps at home can help save a lot of cold hard cash

Posted: Tuesday, November 01, 2005

In addition to properly insulating your home, other tips for winterizing your home and conserving energy include:

Inspect your windows and doors for proper weather seals. Minimizing air gaps keeps heat bills down.

Check your chimney to make sure it's clean. Nothing should be blocking it.

Test the heating unit to make sure it works correctly and cleanly. Clean any related filters, if needed.

Check heating ducts, floor and water pipes and hoses for leaks and seal them with pipewrap, sealants, weather stripping, etc. A faucet that leaks 30 drops of water per minute wastes 84 gallons of water a month and uses 18 kilowatts of energy.

Use compact fluorescent light bulbs, which use a lower wattage and don't heat up. This offers the same amount of light at a fraction of the electric cost.

If you never use your fireplace, plug and seal the chimney flue. Add caulking around the fireplace hearth.

Keep your fireplace damper closed unless a fire is going. Keeping the damper open is like keeping a 48-inch window wide open during the winter; it allows warm air to go right up the chimney.

When using the fireplace, reduce heat loss in the fireplace by opening dampers in the bottom of the firebox (if provided) or opening the nearest window slightly approximately 1 inch and close doors leading into the room. Lower the thermostat setting to between 50 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

Insulate electric, gas, or oil hot-water storage tank and pipes. With electric units, be careful not to cover the thermostat. With oil or gas units, don't cover the water heater's top, bottom, thermostat or burner compartment. When in doubt, get professional help.

A comfortable setting for most hot-water heaters is 120 degrees F. For each 10 degrees F reduction in water temperature, water heating energy can be reduced from 3 to 5 percent.

Drain a quart of water from water tank every three months to remove sediment that impedes heat transfer and lowers the heater's efficiency. The type of water heater determines the steps to take, so follow the manufacturer's advice.

Close curtains and shades at night and open them during the day.

Some of these tips were provided by The United State Department of Energy's Web site www.eere.energy.gov/consumersinfo/energy_savers and "Energy Savers: Tips on Saving Energy and Money at Home," a guide printed by Owens Corning and Honeywell.

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