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9 Little-Known Tips to Reduce Your Winter Energy Bills
Sure you set your programmable thermostat down when you’re away, shut off registers in unused rooms, and change your furnace filter monthly, but there are some less obvious energy saving actions that the average homeowner doesn’t know about. Since the winters here in the Omaha area can get pretty brutal, the team at Getzschman Heating and Cooling wanted to share these less-than-obvious tips to help lower your energy bills as much as possible. See which ones you didn’t know about.
- Lock Doors and Windows – Everyone knows to insulate around your doors and windows because they are one of the worst offenders when it comes to air leaks. But what most people don’t know is to make sure those windows and doors are also locked. Even when doors and windows are closed, they might not be pressed tight against the weatherstripping. Locking them ensures that the seal is as tight as possible so warm air cannot escape.
- Check Your Door’s Threshold – Simply adding caulk or weather stripping to doors is good, but check underneath your door. If you can see any light from outside, you may need to adjust your door’s threshold. Most thresholds have screws that can be adjusted. Turn the screws counterclockwise to bring the threshold up. Adjust it until it’s snug, but If the door drags on the threshold, you may need to lower it just a bit so you don’t wear out the weather strip on the bottom.
- Don’t Run Exhaust Fans Any Longer Than Necessary – If you run kitchen or bathroom fans, make sure to turn them off as soon as possible. Not only do they remove steam and odors, they take the heat with it.
- Don’t Waste Heat That You Created – Take advantage of any residual heat you create inside the house from everyday activities like cooking or showering. Don’t keep heat trapped inside the appliance or the room. Open the doors and let that extra heat (and moisture) spread throughout the rest of your house.
- Outlets Let Air Out – Most homeowners never think about their electrical outlets and switches on the walls. Almost all of these have small gaps around them that allow air to escape. Filling those gaps with caulk or expandable foam sealant will keep the air inside. You can also purchase foam gaskets over the outlet or switch before you replace the cover to further insulate it. Those outlets and switches will be there forever and this small improvement will help save energy year round.
- Pipes, Gas, and Electrical Lines – Just like electrical outlets, areas on exterior walls where plumbing pipes, gas pipes or electrical lines enter your home also have gaps around them where warm air escapes. Use expanding foam to fill these holes. Bonus: This will keep mice and bugs out too!
- Seal and Insulate the Attic Door – This is one place that is often overlooked even if the attic has been professionally insulated. Warm air rises and will easily escape into the attic through an attic door that is not insulated. Check your door and make sure it forms a good seal when it is closed and add weather stripping if it doesn’t. Attach fiberglass insulation to the back of the door to close this large thermal gap.
- Seal Your Ductwork – Have you ever walked your ducts to see if there are leaks, holes or poor connections? Most homeowners haven’t. A typical home can lose 20 – 30% of the air in the system to these leaks when heated air escapes into unheated areas like the basement. Seal any leaks with metal tape. (Don’t use duct tape as, despite its name, it is not the best tape for this job.)
- Consider a Furnace Tune-Up – A tune-up is a great idea. Not only will it protect your family from carbon monoxide leaks, but it will ensure your furnace is running at peak efficiency saving you money on heating bills.