Thursday, September 25, 2008
12 Ways to Cut Your Heating Bill and Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
Whether your home is heated by gas, oil, or electricity, your hard-earned money and the earth’s precious natural resources could literally be going out the window. How? Your windows, chimney, and even your air conditioning window unit could be sucking the heat (or cold) right out of your house all year around. Roughly two-thirds of your energy bill goes into heating spaces and half of that energy is wasted. The following are 12 environmentally-friendly tips to help you lower your heating bill and conserve energy—from the basement to the attic.
1.Insulate your basement, attic and integral garage. Put insulation above unheated spaces. This means that if your basement is unheated, you’ll add insulation to the ceiling, which will keep the floors of your home a little warmer. In the attic, insulate the rafters or unventilated crawl spaces.
2.Insulate old water heaters and exposed hot water pipes. Heat could be escaping from older water heaters. As hot water runs through uninsulated pipes, it can cool. Buy insulation wrap and reduce your electric bill by as much as 20 dollars a year. (And, once that old hot water heater breaks, replace it with a more energy-efficient model.)
3.Turn the water heater down. Keep your hot water heating under a comfortable 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
4.Turn down the thermostat. Lowering the setting by 1 Celsius degree during the winter can save about 10 percent in energy use. Likewise, if you have air conditioning, raising the temperature by just a few degrees can reduce energy in the summer.
5.Install a programmable thermostat. You can set it to automatically control the temperature. If you aren’t home during the day, why keep your house warm and toasty?
6.Change furnace air filters every few months. A dirty filter can block warm air. If you have an old furnace, consider replacing it with a new energy-efficient model. This will save you money in the long run.
7.Take advantage of natural heat and light. During the day, leave the blinds open to let the warmth of the sun in. Use less electric lighting and instead work with natural light.
8. Close your window coverings at night. This will keep the heat in. If you have curtains or drapes, line them to keep the cold out.
9.Seal drafty windows. If you have single-pane windows, hang storm windows or seal them with plastic to keep the heat in. Double-pane windows are best for energy conservation, so if it is time to replace your windows, choose these. Additionally, caulk or weatherstrip any other openings.
10.Seal doors and close other openings. Feel a draft coming from your door? If you’ve already caulked and weatherstripped, consider putting a rolled up rug or towel in front of your door to stop the draft. Also, remember to seal the hatch to your attic, close your fireplace damper, and remove window air conditioning units. Heat could escape your house from there.
11.Use a humidifier. During the winter months, the air is very dry. Adding a humidifier to your home will cause cooler temperatures to feel warmer.
12.Turn on the ceiling fan. In the winter, reversing your ceiling fan will push warm air down.
Green to the extreme? Consider a different heating method.
*Under-floor heating is one of the most energy-efficient traditional methods. It has one of the highest Energy Star ratings.
*If you are willing to break away from traditional methods, look into solar water heating.
*Consider supplementing your traditional heating system with wood or pellet stoves. Though they are a blast from the past, they have a smaller carbon footprint than other kinds of heating systems. Before installing any wood or pellet burning stoves, check local regulations.
by Julie Young