October / November 2013 Green Tips
Winterize Your Home
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, drafts can waste 5% to 30% of your energy use. Start simple and adopt that old Great Depression fixture -- the draft snake, which you can easily make yourself. Just place a rolled bath towel under a drafty door, or make your own. You can use any scraps of fabric -- even neckties -- and fill with sand or kitty litter for heft.
It's important to replace or clean furnace filters once a month during the heating season. Dirty filters restrict airflow and increase energy demand. You may also want to consider switching to a permanent filter, which will reduce waste and hassle. Did you know that disposable fiberglass filters trap a measly 10 to 40% of debris? Electostatic filters trap around 88%, and are much better at controlling the bacteria, mold, viruses and pollen that cause illness and irritation. They cost $50 to $1,000 or more. Another good choice is a genuine HEPA filter, which can remove at least 99.97% of airborne particles. HEPA filters are based on Department of Energy standards. But avoid "HEPA-like" filters, which can be vastly less effective.
Winterize A/C and Water Lines
Drain any hoses and air conditioner pipes, and make sure you don't have excess water pooled in equipment. If your a/c has a water shutoff valve, turn it off.
Make sure any hoses are drained and stowed away neatly. Turn off exterior water spigots. It's also a good idea to seal any water leaks around the place -- and don't forget to remove any window A/C units and store them so you don't invite cold drafts all winter.
Install Storm Doors and Windows
The simple act of installing a storm door can increase energy efficiency by 45%, by sealing drafts and reducing air flow. Storm doors also offer greater flexibility for letting light and ventilation enter your home. Look for Energy Star-certified models.
Storm windows can also make a huge difference when the cold wind starts blowing. It is well worth it to get them out of the shed or attic and install them for the season.
Heating System Tune-Up
Just like cars, heating equipment needs periodic tune-ups in order to run their best. Keeping your furnace clean, lubricated and properly adjusted will reduce energy use, saving up to 5% of heating costs.
The good news is many utilities offer free annual checkups by qualified technicians -- but you often have to call early, as HVAC crews get backed up once heating season starts. Some furnace manufacturers and dealers also offer free or discounted inspections.
For more winterization tips, please visit The Daily Green.
TheDailyGreen.com is a consumer's guide to green living, with daily news, tips, recipes, features and more. The information on this page has been adapted from "19 Easy Home Winterization Projects" http://www.thedailygreen.com/green-homes/latest/winterize-home-tips-energy-461008
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