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- Cut the Costs of Home Heating
Cut the Costs of Home Heating
Some of the biggest leaks are usually found in the attic or the basement. In the attic, look for holes along the top wall that leads down into the house, such as those for wiring and plumbing. Check for insulation that is dirty around the edges, which indicates that air has passed through. Feel for drafts around gaps and cracks. In the basement, check for drafts along the top of the basement wall or crawlspace where the cement comes in contact with the frame of the house. Plumbing and dryer vents are another potential source for leaks.
Once you know where the air leaks are, make your home draft-tight. Window casings can be made more energy-efficient by removing old, brittle caulking and replacing it with fresh caulk. Single-pane windows should be replaced wherever possible with new energy-efficient models that help block out cold air. If replacing windows is too expensive, you can make single-pane windows more energy-efficient by applying temporary shrink-wrap film to your windows. New weatherstripping and a tight-fitting threshold will also keep heat from escaping around and under the door. You can also hire a licensed and insured contractor to install special insulated units behind electrical sockets, such as those by Frost King.
Your heating ducts are huge energy wasters. Sealing and insulating ducts can improve the efficiency of your heating and cooling system by as much as 20 percent. Use duct sealant or metal-backed tape to seal the seams and connections of each duct. After sealing them, wrap the ducts in insulation to keep hot hair from escaping.
The Department of Energy says that a leading cause of energy waste in the home is inadequate insulation. The good news is that adding insulation is a relatively affordable investment for many homeowners, with a very quick return. Materials for insulation are not expensive if applying “loose fill” insulation, but it is a labor-intensive job that requires proper equipment and installation methods.
An easy way for homeowners to determine if they need insulation is to simply look in their attic. A home is seriously under-insulated if the ceiling joists are visible in the attic, and it can be checked with a yardstick, according to Tia Robinson, a spokesperson for The Home Depot.
The “R-Value” is the rating system used to indicate the amount of insulation needed. R-Values can be required by local building codes, which often change and are usually lower than the R-Values recommended by the Department of Energy. Batt insulation, or rolls of insulation, has a lower R-Value because it is denser, so the recommended value is lower than loose fill. In cooler regions, it is recommended to have batts with an R-Value of R-13, and R-19 is recommended in warmer regions. Batt insulation is a bit more expensive, but is not complicated to install correctly for the DIYer. Albeit, it is still a fairly laborious job.
Small lifestyle changes can also help lower the cost of your energy bills this season, according to Chris Seman, national director of operations for Mr. Handyman, a national full-service repair and maintenance company. Restrict your use of bathroom and kitchen air ventilators, which tend to push warm air out of the house and make your furnace work harder to replace the heat. Install window coverings and turn blinds “up” so that they can trap cool air coming from the window before getting into your living spaces. Adjust ceiling fans so that they push air down to help circulate heated air that rises. Also, purchase a home humidifier; humidified air feels warmer than dry air, according to Seman.
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