Annette Rosenthal, Real Estate Sales Representative

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Helpful Hints

Save energy this winter

With energy costs on the rise, many homeowners are looking for ways to conserve as much as possible this winter. If you'd like to cut your energy costs, start with a thorough inspection of your home to determine where you are wasting energy. The following tips, can help you take steps to eliminate energy waste.

One of the most common energy stealers is heat loss. Many homes have inadequate insulation in walls and attics. Insulation is so critical to conserving energy because it's like wrapping your house in a big blanket that significantly slows the rate of heat lost to the outside.

Consider installing a setback thermostat that controls heating costs by automatically lowering the heat when no one is home. For every degree you lower the thermostat, you save approximately 3% on your heating bill. Be sure to close off heat and doors to unused rooms and keep your closet doors closed, since there is no need to heat or cool them.

Try switching to compact fluorescent lighting. Compact fluorescent light bulbs use about 75% less energy than incandescent bulbs. Even though compact fluorescent bulbs may cost 20 times as much as a regular bulb, they last ten times longer and will more than pay for themselves in energy savings.

Use caulking, weather-strip, and foam to seal air leaks. Even though you may have a furnace that runs at or above standard efficiency, losing all that air through leaks really defeats the purpose. Pay special attention to the areas around windows and doors, where pipes enter walls, around light switches and outlets, and anywhere two materials meet. Caulk the interior of wall cracks, not the exterior and use rope caulk around very leaky windows.

Keeping your furnace clean and in good repair will ensure that it runs to peak efficiency. Be sure to change your furnace filter monthly during the heating season. Most hardware stores now carry a washable, universal size filter that should fit most furnaces. Just be sure washable filters are completely dry before placing them back in the filter rack.

An efficient heating system can mean greater comfort at a lower cost. Have your system checked once a year by a professional. Regular maintenance helps keep your system working efficiently and safely. Also, wrapping your hot water tank with jacket insulation will reduce standby heat loss from the tank. Make sure to leave the air intake vent uncovered when insulating a gas water heater.

Fireplaces are often overlooked energy wasters. The draft required to maintain the fire in a fireplace pulls large volumes of warm air from the rest of the home during the winter. An open or poorly closed fireplace damper can allow large amounts of conditioned air to escape a home in the winter.

Use your microwave. Cooking in your microwave is more energy efficient than in a conventional oven because cooking time is shorter, preheating isn't necessary, and microwaves heat your food directly - not the whole kitchen.

Contact your local utility company for more energy-saving tips. You may even want to consider an "energy-audit" for your home. Energy audits are offered through your local hydro or gas companies. For a fee, an energy advisor will visit your home and perform a complete energy audit to determine exactly how efficiently your home consumes and distributes energy.

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