Coastal living is great! Beautiful summers and mild winters, but when it comes to preparing for winter it doesn’t hurt to take a few notes from our northern friends. Many of the technique’s used to save energy during the cold winter months in the northern states can easily be applied to any home in any climate.
Windows: Let’s get this one out of the way. Cost per dollar savings for windows is going to be the least cost effective choice to save energy. Dual Pane windows are great upgrade to a home, but unless you have broken windows your money is better spent on more effective cost per savings ratios. The best thing to do for your windows is to make sure the caulking and weather-stripping is still good, if not redo the caulking and weather-stripping. During the day, make sure southern facing windows are wide open to allow the home to absorb all the natural heat gain. In the evening close the drapes to trap in the daytime heat gain.
Insulation: Having a properly insulated home will help in both warm and cold temperatures. Ceilings should at least an R-30 value and at least an R10 in the walls. The further north the heavier the insulation should be in the walls. Insulation is the best value for your dollar spent on improving energy efficiency for you home. A common mistake made by builders and architects is to place the air conditioning ducting outside of the insulated house space, by placing them above the ceiling’s insulation in the attic. This means that the cold air in the ducts must travel through hot ductwork. If ductwork is located in the attic, then the ceiling of the attic should be insulated to a level of at least R-30.
Blower Door Test: This is a test that will check for leaks in your home and in your ductwork. With this test, you use the test along with an infrared camera to find out if your ductwork is leaking and which points in your home need attention to seal up large leaks. Contact a local energy rater to perform this test.
Thermostat: A programmable thermostat can help control the use of heat throughout the day. For every degree you reduce on the thermostat you can expect about 3% savings on your fuel bill. Optimal indoor temperature is 68 degrees during waking hours and 5-8 degrees cooler while you’re sleeping. Set your programmable thermostat and forget about the 70s.
Water Heater: This tip is both a energy saving tip and a safety tip. Make sure your hot water heater is set no higher than 120 degrees. By reducing your water heater down 20% you will save 10% on your utilities bill.
Ceiling Fans: Ceiling fans are great for the hot months, but they can be equally as helpful in the winter months. Reversing the fan to push air down will keep the warm air towards the occupied area instead of the ceiling.
Switching your bulbs: The days are shorter during the winter season and the use of light bulbs increase with shorter time for daylight. Switching your light bulbs to energy star rated bulbs will help save energy & money.
All these tips combined together will drastically reduce your energy bills and make you home more comfortable to live. You can feel good about the savings on your pocket book and reduction of environmental resources used to keep your home comfortable.