Ready to save more money on your utility bills around the house? In part 3 of our 5 part series on energy savings, we focus on weather stripping, caulking, insulation, fireplaces, florescent lights, and power strips.
I was lucky enough to spend a full day with DTE energy expert Herman Kozub. He specifically noted that air sealing your house followed by proper insulation can save a homeowner about 10 percent on their heating and cooling bill. Perhaps most of us would be surprised by simply purchasing a good grade of silicon caulk and filling in the voids around the house where wind or air can enter. You should pay particular attention to windows, doors, and locations where wires and pipes go into or out of the house. For bigger cracks, use foam sealant in a can. Remember, if air is getting in, energy is getting out! You can also place pre-cut foam insulating strips underneath wall plates and light switches to block airflow out of the wall. Get more information from DTE here regarding weather stripping.
Make sure to add plastic around the inside or outside of your windows if they're drafting or old. This will cut down on the cold air infiltration into the house. You can purchase a kit from the stores, or simply buy a roll of plastic and use some packaging tape. Your rooms will feel alot warmer.
Something else every homeowner should look at is attic insulation. Experts recommend R38 to R60 values. The higher the number, the better the insulating power. You can determine your value by measuring the thickness of your insulation, then multiply times three. For example, if you measure nine inches in the attic, times three would be an R value around 27. Blown in cellulose is an excellent choice. Remember, if your laying additional rolled insulation in, use unfaced (no paper on the back) and install it the opposite way (or perpendicular) to the existing insulation. That helps seal air gaps. Insulation rebates are available for DTE Energy customers by clicking here. Make sure to check with your service provider.
Next on our list were fireplaces (especially gas). While they look appealing, the energy efficiency of them is virtually non existent. Heated air from the house is usually removed to "burn" the fire. Metal dampers never seem to close and seal completely, so cold air typically infiltrates into the house. And unless your fireplace has exterior glass doors, you'll gain even more cold air through the chimney. You can also use a chimney balloon that inserts into the flue to help block the cold air flow when the fireplace is off.
DTE also recommends using power strips to plug all of your electronic items into. Vampire appliances can literally "suck" energy from the wall even if nothing is turned on or attached. Things like cell phone chargers, TV's and stereos in standby mode, or computers in sleep mode all contribute to higher electric bills. Plug them all into a power strip and turn off the strip.
Make sure to switch from traditional incandescent lights to compact florescent lights (CPL's). The CPL will last longer and use far less energy. Click here for more information on energy star lighting.
All of our energy saving tips and utility savings are being done in cooperation with our FOX 17 Project Warmth campaign. It's your chance to win $300 each day in February to help with your home heating bill. Click here to get all the rules and regulations. Hurry...the contest ends Wednesday February 29, 2012.
Coming up Tuesday on FOX 17 News at Six, part 4 of my energy savings pieces with show you ways to get free money just for making your house more energy efficient. That's right...DTE Energy and other utility service providers will actually offer rebates to install energy savings items if your their customer.