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HomeHomes
Published: Thursday, 12/1/2005

Tips For Saving On Heating Bills

(ARA) - Get your home ready for the rigors of winter. Spend a few weekends winterizing your home now and you ll reap the benefits of lower energy bills and a highly efficient home no matter what the season.

Consider this:

* A properly adjusted furnace can help you save 10 percent in fuel consumption.

* Storm windows and doors can reduce heating costs by as much as 15 percent.

* Caulking and weatherstripping cracks in walls and floors, windows and doors will save fuel and money.

* Turning down the thermostat by 10 degrees at night or when the house is unoccupied can save as much as 20 percent of your heating costs. Every 24-hour period that the heat is lowered by one degree can result in a 3 percent savings on your heating bill.

* A well-insulated attic is a worthy cause -- this step alone can save 20 to 35 percent in heating costs and up to 35 percent on air-conditioning costs.

Windows and doors conceal every opening in the home so they are critical elements in a cost-conscious home. It s important that your windows and doors perform at peak levels. If you have an older home with drafty, leaking windows or doors, it s time to stop procrastinating and take action. Heating is the single, biggest energy user in the home, so take steps now to lower heating bills and save valuable time and money this winter.

The number one problem in new residential construction in North America is poor window and door installation, says H. Alan Mooney, president of Criterium Engineers. He bases his comments on a survey of professional engineers involved in new home inspections that found almost one quarter of new home complaints involved poorly installed windows and doors.

Window and door sensibility

Wood, fiberglass and vinyl windows are all best bets when evaluating the energy efficiency of a home. Make sure windows have the proper coating. At a minimum, always choose Low-e glass to help keep your home warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer while reducing harmful ultraviolet rays which can fade interior furnishings. Blinds or shades have insulating values as well and can add to overall energy efficiency of your home.

Whether you re remodeling an existing home or starting a new construction project, following installation instructions and using the correct materials helps your project and the products featured in it perform. A popular material with contractors and do-it-yourselfers is installation tape used to help seal out air and moisture around doors and windows installed in new homes. The tape helps minimize the potential for water in the wall cavity by tying the window to a home s weather barrier. Another installation material that improves energy efficiency is a foam sealant.

The menace of moisture

Too much moisture in the home can be a menace rather than an advantage. Pets, people and furnishings can all bear the brunt of too much moisture in the air. Condensation may be less of an issue in older homes if conditions allow for more air exchange between indoors and out, often from around aging, loose or poorly installed windows and doors. However, the tradeoff is higher energy bills. Newer homes, on the other hand, are more airtight and energy efficient. Many have vapor barriers -- plastic within the wall cavity that blocks moisture passage in either direction. With tighter fitting doors and windows, vapor barriers and increased insulation, energy costs are lower, but humidity levels must be monitored more closely.

No matter when your home was built, the key is to strike the right balance when it comes to humidity levels. Air that s too dry can cause furniture to dry out and crack, joints and studs to shrink and twist, and paint and plaster to crack. Excessive moisture in the home can cause paint to peel and insulation to deteriorate, and condensation on windows and doors can damage sills and trim.

Practical advice

Feeling overwhelmed? Noted architect, author and home design expert Sarah Susanka says the most important strategy to making an existing house more energy efficient is to recognize that every small step adds up.

A lot of simple improvements are not done because we believe we should be doing more. And so we do nothing at all, says Susanka. I d suggest take the list of options, pin it to your bulletin board, and check off the items as you do them. It s not always the big steps that make the most difference. Courtesy of ARA Content.



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