TURN YOUR HOME INTO AN AIRTIGHT SPACE
You spend a lot of time, money and energy warming up your home, so you don’t want it to go to waste. Prevent warm air from slipping outside by creating a tight envelope. Replace, caulk or apply weather stripping to drafty windows and doors. Don’t overlook air leaks from utility cut-throughs — the gaps that allow pipes into your home, as well as chimneys and recessed lights. A clear plastic sheet taped tightly to your window frames can stop air from escaping as well. Schedule an inspection with an insulation professional to make sure old and worn-out insulation isn’t causing leaks. Check your ducts to make sure you don’t have holes, which can seriously impact your bills.
PERFORM AN ENERGY AUDIT
A professional energy audit will teach you more than you ever imagined about your home’s energy usage. The auditor will use a variety of tests, including a blower door and possibly infrared imaging, to identify air leakages, air infiltration, humidity levels and insulation efficiency. They’ll offer recommendations to clear up air loss. The cost can range up to several hundred dollars, but the savings in energy over the months and years to come will more than recoup it.
MAINTAIN YOUR HVAC EQUIPMENT
Before the cold months begin, hire an HVAC service to inspect, clean and maintain your heating system. A good technician will tune up the system for peak performance, and they can also catch small problems before they become big problems that leave your family shivering in the middle of the night. Also, check and replace your HVAC filters once per month. A dirty filter makes your system work harder to generate the same amount of heat, so you’re throwing energy and money in the trash if you don’t keep your filters clean.
CHECK YOUR FIREPLACE
A working fireplace creates a straight path to the outdoors. Keep your damper closed any time you’re not burning a fire. Check the seal on the flue damper to make it as tight as possible. Caulk around the hearth to prevent air loss.
USE A PROGRAMMABLE THERMOSTAT
A programmable thermostat can keep you warm and lower bills at the same time. Set your thermostat to roll back about 10 degrees when you’re asleep or out of the house. When you’re home and awake, set the thermostat as low as is comfortable.