Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Earthweek - Cutting Home Heating Bills: Ways to Save Your Money

Given that it is Earthweek, this seems to be an appropriate post. The synergy of cutting your home heating bill, saving your money, and helping mother Earth can coexist!

Solar Power: Consider heating your home with the sun's help. Energy from solar panels or using solar heat to supplement your normal heating source is cost effective in most parts of the world. The initial cost may seem higher, but over the long run it costs the least and there are generous tax rebates for installing solar panels.

Thermostat: Temperature variations near the thermostat will affect the whole house. Be sure your thermostat is located in an area that is not too cold or hot. Install an automatic timer to keep the thermostat at 68 degrees during the day and 55 degrees at night. If it seems chilly - put on a sweater.

Sunlight: Open up those draperies and shades in winter to let in the heat from the sunshine. If you're worried about fading the furniture - use a slipcover. Keep shade trees from blocking the suns rays into your house. Prune any branches that block the sunlight. If you've installed awning to block the sun in the summer make sure you take them off before the cold weather hits. Keep windows closed during cold weather, but be careful to "air out the house" on a regular basis to avoid buildup of any toxins.

Windows: Check to see that glass in all windows have fresh putty. If the putty in your windows is dry and cracked you may want to consider adding some newer sealant. Also seal any visible cracks with weather-stripping or cloth - newspapers will do if you're desperate. Repair all cracks and holes, large or small, in your roof, walls, doors and windows. Make sure you seal off anywhere that heat might escape. You may be able to cut heat loss in half by weather-stripping doors and windows. Don't forget the weather-stripping on your attic and basement doors to prevent heat from escaping.

Insulation: Think about upgrading the insulation in your home. If you haven't already, insulate your attic and all outside walls. Insulate floors over unheated spaces such as your basement, any crawl spaces and your garage. You actually lose more heat through poorly insulated floor spaces and basements in the average house than through drafty doors and windows. The savings here could be as high as $500 a year!

Furnace: Before you use your furnace for the first time in the cold weather have it serviced. Many gas and oil companies provide this in your service contract or for a small additional fee and it could amount to savings of up to $400. Inspect your furnace during the cold months. Keep parts clean. Replace air filters when necessary. Clean filters can save up to $60 a year on heating costs. Make sure that furnace cold air and warm air registers are not obstructed and vacuum them clean once a month. Turn off your furnace pilot light when heat is not necessary.

Fireplace: Check for cracks around fireplace. Keep heat in by caulking all cracks. Keep fireplace damper closed when not in use. Turn off heat when the fireplace is being used. A glass front or glass screen will reduce fireplace heat loss.

Pots and Pans: Cover pots and pans when heating liquids. Cooking utensils with flat bottoms and tight fitting covers save heat. Be sure pots and pans are right size for range burners and elements. Plan some meals so that entire meal can be prepared in oven at same time. Thaw frozen meats to almost room temperature before cooking. Turn off your oven about five minutes before cooking time is over. The heat in the oven will keep on cooking your food, and you'll save on gas or electric bills. Don't open the oven often to check food while it's cooking. You lose 20 to 50 percent of the heat each time you do - and you slow down the cooking process.

Government assistance: Check to see if you qualify for any government assistance with your heating bills if you have a low income or are a senior citizen on a fixed income. Check efficiency ratings before purchasing appliances of any kind. Then check tax breaks and homeowner's insurance policies for savings when you add energy conserving items to your home.

Utility Company: Check with your local electric company to find out if they have times during the day when the rates are lower. Using the oven, dishwasher, washing machine and other energy demanding appliances during these times may lead to big savings. Be careful. Some plans may make you pay a premium price for using electric during peak hours and you'll need to make sure to do wash and other chores during the off hours. Talk to your utility company for other suggestions for saving money on your heating bills. Many companies will actually send someone to your house for a home energy audit and offer suggestions to help you use less energy

Around the Web, check out more facts and information on how to save money on the those monthly electricity bills, and join the legions of homeowners who are "going green" and cutting dependency on foreign oil — in a fight to both cut costs and save the environment....

The Home Energy Saver - U.S government site featuring a home energy calculator for locations nationwide plus energy saving tips, tons of related resources, FAQ, glossary.

Energy Star - U.S. government-backed program helping businesses and consumers protect the environment through better energy efficiency, with online guides to lighting, appliances, heating & cooling, tips, facts and related resources.

EERE: DOE Financing Solutions - Homeowners - Energy efficient homes can save money in more ways than one. With guides to solar energy, consumer information for energy efficient appliances, insulation & sealing, wind turbine systems, landscaping tips and more for apartment dwellers.

Consumer Guide to Energy Savings - From the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy including recommendations on energy-efficient appliances, a home energy checklist, plus guides to energy efficient windows, air conditioning systems, halogen lighting, and other money saving tips.

Efficient Windows Collaborative - The benefits of energy efficient windows, how they work, and information on the selection process with a good listing of related resources.

Saving Electricity - The complete guide by "Mr. Electricity" with pages of advice on saving money & reducing consumption, with tips & tricks on using particular household appliances and more on alternative energy sources.

Source: www.chiff.com

Please let me know if you need to get a physical inspection done to evaluate the energy efficiency of your home. I have access to licensed professionals that do exactly this. In fact, now that I have been selling and managing real estate for so long, I have access to licensed professionals that I can trust for just about anything. You trust me and I will vouch for those that I refer to you just as if they were doing the work on my very own home. For your real estate needs, you need a guide. I can be easily reached at 858-676-5250 or via email at rashid@rashidrealty.com.

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