Weatherizing - Energy Conservation
Reduction in energy cost can be consciously obtained by making some of the necessary changes inside your home as you saw during your weatherization audit.
The thermostat - It does make a difference where your thermostat is located in your home. One located too near a heat or cold source, or on an outside wall, can give you unnecessary problems.
Keep in mind, while weatherizing the interior doors of your home, that you do not want to seal off the room with the thermostat. The purpose of tightening interior doors is to avoid healing or cooling unused rooms of the house.
Turning the thermostat down at night when you are sleeping; during the day when the house is unoccupied; only utilizing the heat or air conditioner in the morning and evening; are prime energy savers. By installing a programmable thermostat you can eliminate fooling around with the setting three or four times a day. This device is installed easily. Turn the power off at the furnace or by removing the fuse or pulling the circuit breaker that runs the furnace fan. Lift off the cover plate from the old thermostat. Carefully note on a piece of paper which numbered or lettered wire is connected to which wire on the existing thermostat and tag each one with masking tape. Remove the thermostat and inspect the wiring. If it is discolored, or if the insulation is cracked, cut back the insulation to a solid material and rewrap the wire with electrical tape to within 1 inch of the end. If the wiring leading from the thermostat to the furnace fan is not repairable, replace it. (See our electrical fixtures section.) Pull the wires through the opening of the new programmable thermostat wall plate and fasten the wires into place with the color-coded screws provided. Screw the thermostat to the wall and install the cover plate.
Hot water heater - Turning down the hot water heater to a temperature of 110 degrees will generally supply you with adequate hot water. For those of you with small children, it will be an added comfort to know a mischievous child will not be scalded by this lower temperature. If a hotter temperature is needed, like on a dishwasher, you can get small water heating boosters. These are installed just before the appliance they are serving in the plumbing system. They work by heating just the water needed for immediate use.
Install an insulating jacket around the hot water heater to improve its heat retention capability. This also will keep the heating element from working so hard to keep the water hot. If you have a gas hot water heater, be careful not to install the jacket too close to the floor. The pilot light needs to receive air.
When you leave your home for vacations or any extended leave of absence, turn off the pilot light to the hot water heater as well as any other pilot lights in the home. Check with your local gas company first about turning off and relighting gas pilot lights.
Tune-Ups and Maintenance
It pays to have your furnace and central air conditioner tuned up each year before the heating or cooling season. Although this is a job for a professional, you can take some measures to add to this efficiency.
Carefully examine all of the ducts and flues and seal any leaks with duct tape. These usually occur at a bend in the duct. Replace filters regularly on furnaces and air-conditioning units. Keep heating/cooling registers cleaned and free from blockage. Window air conditioners should be removed and cleaned in winter and/or have insulation added to seal the space between the air conditioner and the wall. Also wrap the air conditioner in plastic and seal it with duct tape.
Fireplace flues allow warm air to drift right up and out of your home. Plug these effectively by installing a commercially available insulating fireplace baffle (damper). This must be custom fitted to your flue, usually by a professional. An option is to stuff the chimney flue with nonflammable material, if it isn't going to be used. Glass fireplace doors work well for the occasionally used fireplace. They seal against the opening and provide excellent protection against infiltration.
There are kits available to help you seal off infiltration through electrical outlets. These are nonflammable foam pad inserts which fit right over the outlet under the plate. Cap the sockets when not in use.
Do not overwork your utilities. Insulating hot and cold water pipes as well as heating/cooling ducts can prevent sweating on hot days and freezing on cold days. Condensation can reduce the effectiveness of your subfloor insulation and cause many other moisture-related problems. Adhesive-backed, foam pipe insulating tape keeps temperature extremes inside the pipe and eliminates the formation of condensation.
Tip: Turning down the hot water heater to a temperature of 110" will supply you with adequate hot water without wasting energy.