Energy conservation: Preparing for cooler weather

By Caroline Ward: 27th SOCES

As the weather shifts to cooler temperatures, we need to shift our focus from ways to stay cool to ways to insulate the home to reduce heat loss. Energy prices are on the rise, and as a result, heating costs will consume an increasingly larger portion of your household’s energy budget. Completing even just a few of the following tips will help to ensure your heating dollars aren’t being wasted.

Control costs by controlling temperature. Set your temperature no higher than 68 degrees. Use a programmable thermostat with set-backs at night and unoccupied times.

• Weather stripping and caulking: This is one of the least expensive, simplest, and most effective ways to cut energy costs. Check around doors, windows, and plumbing vents for leaks and drafts, weather strip and caulk can save 5-30 percent on heating costs.

• Insulate your home. Insulate your water heater and hot-water piping. Check your insulation in the attic, ceilings, exterior and basement walls, floors and crawl space. Add insulation to meet the guidelines listed at: www.eere.energy.gov.

• Improve your windows: If your windows are in bad shape consider replacing them or as a minimum add plastic sheeting. Installing efficient windows can lower your heating/cooling costs by 30 percent. Energy Star rated window can reduce heating bills by 25-50 percent over single pain windows.

• Check ducts for leaks: Over time your duct junctions can separate, get torn, crushed or flattened without you knowing it. The result is heated air spilling into your attic or under your house. Repairing these leaks can save up to 10 percent.

• Check electric wall plugs and switches: Purchase simple pre-cut foam gaskets that install behind the plate to effectively stop leaks.

• Have your heating system inspected for proper operation. If it is more than 15 years old consider installing a new high efficiency system. Older system efficiency can be as low as 50-70 percent, you can purchase new units with an efficiency rating as high as 97 percent. Depending on your current system, you could save as much as 27 to 47 percent on heating costs.

• Check your vents: It takes 25 percent more energy to pump air into a room if the vents are blocked by items such as plants and newspapers.

• Let the sun shine in: Open your drapes and let the sun heat your house for free. Close them at night to help insulate your windows.

• Rearrange your rooms: Move your furniture so you are sitting near interior walls. Exterior walls and windows can be drafty making it feel colder than it really is.

As cold weather approaches, completing just a couple of the above initiatives can make your home more comfortable and keep those escalating energy bills at bay. While Energy Awareness Month may be ending, this doesn’t mean your efforts to reduce your energy usage should. Please hold yourself and your peers accountable to all energy used to give everyone the best opportunity for energy savings success! For more information you can go to the Energy Star website at www.energystar.gov and the Alliance to Save Energy website at www.ase.org. If you have any questions, suggestions or concerns please e-mail the base Resource Efficiency Manager and Energy/Utility Program Manager at 27SOCES.CEAEnergy@ cannon.af.mil.