Costs Soaring this Winter, Here’s What You Can Do…
[updated October 2012]
Our homes are our castles, literally. It’s not unusual for them to have hot tubs, steam rooms, multiple refrigerators, dishwashers and washing machines, movie theaters and even indoor pools. But what about the cost of electricity to maintain these amenities, coupled with the cost of heating your home?
One thing you can count on with energy bills: They tend to rise rather than fall. According to a recent report from Bloomberg Businessweek, the price of heating oil “has averaged $3 a gallon, up $.0.15 since 2008… It costs about a third of a penny more per kilowatt-hour to keep the lights on than it did four years ago.”
And anyone who drives a car can attest the pain at the pump that Americans are feeling in late 2012.
However, one ray of sunshine comes from the natural gas sector, where prices have crashed 85 percent to “the lowest in a decade,” according to Bloomberg Businessweek.
It’s always smart to keep an eye on lowering your home energy budget to prepare for the cold months ahead. A few tips from the Certainteed Home Institute include:
- “Insulate” Yourself from High Bills: Appropriate insulation levels for your geographic area can help reduce your heating usage up to 30 percent. If you’re too busy to insulate, hire an insulation contractor. He will evaluate your attic insulation, exterior and basement walls, floors and crawl spaces and perhaps recommend a blown-in insulation. Blown-in fiber glass insulation is highly thermally efficient for the life of a home.
- Heat the indoors, not the outdoors: Check your home’s walls, floors, roof, windows, and doors. Seal leaks between moving parts (between door and frame) with weather stripping. Fill leaks between nonmoving parts (between window frame and wall) with caulking.
- Address Energy Inefficient Windows: Ideally, you should have double pane and low emissivity coated windows, so if you are replacing yours this season, seek these out. They can reduce your energy usage by 34 percent compared to uncoated single-pane windows.
- Installing an Automatic Setback or Programmable Thermostat: Programmable thermostats can lower or raise home temperatures around your schedule. When you’re working, program it to a cooler temperature, in the 60s. When you’re back, raise it into the 70s. These measures can help save up to 10 percent on your annual heating bills.
- Checking Your Furnace: Heating can account for almost 50 percent of your family’s winter energy bill. To improve the efficiency of your furnace, change furnace filters frequently. Also, clean air registers, baseboard heaters and radiators as needed. Change forced air heating system air filters monthly as well.
- Keep the sun in to help heat your home: Keep blinds or drapes of sun-exposed windows open in the daytime and closed at night to conserve heat. Close unoccupied areas and reduce heat. Close the damper on fireplaces when not in use.
- Select Energy Star Products: When replacing your heating and cooling systems – as well as appliances, lighting, windows, insulation, and home electronics, look for the Energy Star label, the symbol for energy efficiency.
- Put timers on your lights: Instead of leaving lights on, put timers on a few of the lights in your home, or install motion detectors and daylight sensors. Motion detectors on exterior floodlights improve your home security at a lower operating cost.
- Bulbs Make a Difference: Just replacing your four most used 100-watt incandescent bulbs with four comparable 23-watt compact fluorescent bulbs can save $108 over three years.
- Turn It Off: Turn off everything when not in use: lights, TVs, computers.
- Planting Trees and Shrubs: Strategically planted landscaping in your yard can help reduce your energy costs. Deciduous trees – those that drop their leaves in the fall – are best planted in front of sunny windows.
For more energy-efficient tips, call the CertainTeed Home Institute at 1-800-782-8777 for the free pamphlet “Tips to Head Off High Heating Bills” or visit us on the web at www.certainteed.com.