Saving Money on Your Home: How to Conserve Energy

Sometimes wanting to be energy efficient and knowing how to go about it are two different things. We can start our search by taking a look at areas in the home where energy can escape. Below are average percentages in the northwestern part of the United States.
* 31% escape through ceilings, walls, and floors
* 15% escape through duct work
* 14% escape through the flue in the fireplace
* 13% escape through penetrations in the plumbing
* 11% escapes from around the doors
* 10% escapes from around the windows
* 4% escapes through fans and vents
* 2% escapes through the electrical outlets

Now that we know where all of our escaped energy is going, let’s talk about seasonal things we can do help cut back that energy loss.

In the Cold of the Winter

* During the day, open the drapes and shades covering the sunny windows. Close them at night
* Installing and using your automatic door opener will help you shut your garage door quickly so you can prevent the cold air from reaching the inside walls
* Covering water pipes that run through unheated areas of your house with electric heat tape will help prevent heat loss.
* By using a humidifier you can still feel more comfortable, even in a cooler house. Especially if the humidity level stays between 40-50%.
* Check the furnace filter at least once a month. When the furnace filter is dirty, the air flow is restricted, making the furnace work harder and longer.
* When you are not using the fireplace keep the damper closed. You may even want to think about installing a glass door fireplace to prevent the heat from escaping up the chimney.
* To warm up a room in the house not often used, use an electric heater. Or, use a heater to warm up part of a large cold room.

In the Heat of the Summer

* Keep the foils or fins of the air conditioning unit free of dust and other debris. In addition clean the filters of your air conditioner on a regular basis, and replace the filters when they become worn
* Consider putting awnings over the windows where the sun shines in. And draw the drapes and shades during the daylight hours
* Using an attic ventilating fan will cut back on the air conditioner bill. A 1400 square foot attic fan should have at least 5 square feet of ventilation
* To pull the hot air out of the attic, install a turbine ventilator on the roof
* Run the air conditioner only on really hot days
* Be conservative about using the lights in your home
* When your air conditioning is running, run fans in the house to better circulate the air throughout the house.

Year Around Savings

* During the summer, turn off the pilot light in the furnace. Do check with your gas company before doing so
* Use energy saving fluorescent light bulbs to replace the other types of light bulbs
* Replace and/or repair all your leaky faucets
* If you have working shutters on the inside or outside of your house use them to prevent heat or cool air loss
* Close off all the rooms that are not being used
* Adjust the vents in your room to maintain a desired temperature. Don’t close down more than two vents in an average size house. Restricting the airflow can shorten the life of the furnace
* In cold weather, use the bathroom and kitchen ventilation fans sparingly. Otherwise, too much warm air is allowed to escape
* Seal all the leaks around the windows, doors, ductwork and pipes
* Plug the gaps around pipes, fans and vents that go through the exterior walls, ceilings, and floors from heated to unheated spaces
* When not using your exterior wall electric outlets, insert safety plugs in the sockets. This will prevent any cold air from coming in

There are other things we can do. This is only a start. I’m sure if we all took a walk through our house every now and then, we can find ways to conserve. Remember to think ‘green.’

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