Home Energy Saving Tips to Reduce Your Utility Bills

Couple-paying-utility-billsPreparing your home for winter will ensure you have a warmer home and lower energy bills. Two things that help greatly are making sure your home is properly sealed and has sufficient insulation in all the right places. Here are some home energy saving tips that will help reduce your utility bills this winter.

Seal holes and cracks

Older homes have many places that lose heat or cold air. This means your HVAC system has to work longer and harder to keep your home comfortable. By properly sealing the holes and cracks around windows and doors, you can enjoy greater comfort and a smaller utility bill for years to come. You can use caulk, weather stripping, and specially-made gaskets for electrical outlets to create good seals. Also, look where pipes come into the house, and find and seal any holes in external walls.

Determine how much insulation is needed

Most homes already have some form of insulation, especially if they’re in the north. Over time, though, the recommended amount of insulation has increased, which means that you may not have enough to give you the energy savings you could have. In the attic, it’s recommended that you have enough insulation to cover the floor joists, which would take between 12 to 15 inches – at least R38, but R49 is even better.

Before adding insulation, you can find out from a contractor just how much you need for specific areas. Walls, for instance, will need a different amount than a crawl space, the area above a garage, or an attic.

Insulate the ductwork

The air that travels from your furnace or heat pump has to go through ducts to get to all of your rooms. Leaks in the ductwork, or times when the air travels through hot or cold spaces, requires more energy to properly heat or cool your house. Putting insulation on your ducts – where needed – can enable you to reduce your utility bills considerably.

Insulate the water heater

Water heaters can lose a lot of energy if they’re not insulated. This is especially true if they’re located in a space that gets cold in the winter. Putting an insulated jacket on it, and turning your hot water down to about 125 degrees, will save you money in the long run.

Look for air leaks

If you only take a quick look in your attic or basement, you’re probably going to miss a number of areas that can cause significant heat loss in the winter. You especially want to look carefully at areas of the ceiling that are lower than the surrounding areas, such as over cabinets or bathroom vanities, over stairways, and where walls meet the ceiling. Over these areas you will often find open spaces that aren’t insulated.

While you’re looking around, be on the lookout for potential problems that need attention. This includes damp or rotten areas on beams, and damp insulation, which indicates a roof leak.

Be sure also to close the fireplace damper when not in use, as a lot of heat can be lost up the chimney. Adding fireplace doors and covers can also help keep out the cold when it’s not in use.

Insulate basement windows

If you have single-pane windows in the basement, you can keep some of the heat in by covering them with plastic sheeting. You may also want to cover a basement doorway with plastic, too, if it allows drafts to come through or under it.

You can have even greater energy savings if you adjust your thermostat a couple of degrees. Other ways to save energy at home include adding ceiling fans, or turning them on so they blow upward to help circulate the air better, creating a more comfortable room by making it more uniformly heated.


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