Simple steps to reduce winter energy costs
by Brandpoint (ARA) Sponsored Content
Jan 29, 2014 | 13302 views | 0 0 comments | 62 62 recommendations | email to a friend | print


Winter's falling temperatures typically lead to higher energy costs as we try to keep our home interiors comfortably warm. At the same time, many of us are concerned about the environmental impact of winter's increased energy use.

Is there anything simple a handy homeowner or renter can do to save some money and energy? There is.

Actually, many easy and inexpensive do-it-yourself projects help cut down on wasted energy that drains the pocketbook. Most of these projects involve picking up a few energy-saving products made with modern, durable plastic materials - products specifically designed to prevent unwanted loss of warm air throughout the home.

Where to focus? Attic doors, fireplaces, windows and exterior doors, along with electric switches and outlets and air vents, often are not sealed adequately, which leads to warm air flowing out and cold air sneaking in. Taking a few moments to help inhibit leaks in these areas can provide a quick and easy return on time and money invested.

Attic

First check to see if any missing or damaged insulation needs to be replaced. Consider placing sheets of foam polystyrene plastic on top of existing insulation, which is an uncomplicated way to help block unwanted airflow. Also take a look at the attic door or entry hatch - if it's not well sealed, pick up some plastic foam weather stripping at the local hardware store and press it around the perimeter to help keep cold air in the attic and warm air in your living space.

Fireplace

Oh the irony ... although designed to heat a room, the fireplace often allows cold air to enter your house. Even when the chimney flue is closed, cold air can seep in and chill the room. An innovative product known as a 'chimney pillow,' 'fireplace plug,' or 'chimney balloon' is a nifty solution. You simply inflate a tough, durable plastic bag that fits snugly inside the chimney, forming a plug that can dramatically reduce airflow while the fireplace isn't in operation. After installation, the pillow's inflation tube hangs down into the fireplace to remind you to remove it before lighting a fire.

Windows and doors

Even when closed, windows and doors still can let in cold air - especially older ones that don't form a tight seal. You can help stop unwanted airflow and make your existing windows and doors more efficient with a few affordable products from the hardware store.

For example, adding plastic caulks (such as silicone) around the frames both indoors and outdoors can help close gaps where warm air could escape. You also can choose from a large variety of weather stripping - most are made with some type of plastic foam that helps trap air to provide a barrier between indoors and out. If you have significant gaps, try a polyurethane plastic foam sealant that expands to fill cracks - it's usually sold in a can with a flexible tube applicator that makes it easy to use. And look into plastic window film that can be applied directly to the glass windowpane - it helps insulate the window while still providing a clear view.

Switches, outlets and ducts

Electrical switches and outlets are less obvious areas where energy can be wasted. Placing pre-cut, inexpensive plastic foam insulation sheets behind switch and outlet plate covers can help prevent air sneaking in and out.

Also check your home's unheated areas (basement, attic and garage) for leaks in heating ducts, which can be a hidden culprit for air loss. These leaks can be quickly sealed with plastic-based caulks or polyurethane foam sealants, which are designed to fill cracks and crevices while resisting moisture and mildew.

Copyright 2013 The Times-Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

report abuse...

Express yourself:

We're glad to give readers a forum to express their points of view on issues important to this community. That forum is the “Letters to the Editor.” Letters to the editor may be submitted directly to The Times-Independent through this link and will be published in the print edition of the newspaper. All letters must be the original work of the letter writer – form letters will not be accepted. All letters must include the actual first and last name of the letter writer, the writer’s address, city and state and telephone number. Anonymous letters will not be accepted.

Letters may not exceed 400 words in length, must be regarding issues of general interest to the community, and may not include personal attacks, offensive language, ethnic or racial slurs, or attacks on personal or religious beliefs. Letters should focus on a single issue. Letters that proselytize or focus on theological debates will not be published. During political campaigns, The Times-Independent will not publish letters supporting or opposing any local candidate. Thank you letters are generally not accepted for publication unless the letter has a public purpose. Thank you letters dealing with private matters that compliment or complain about a business or individual will not be published. Nor will letters listing the names of individuals and/or businesses that supported a cause or event. Thank you letters about good Samaritan acts will be considered at the discretion of the newspaper.