To help reduce creosote during wood burning, burn only well-seasoned hardwoods. If you don't know how to build a hot, safe fire, ask your chimney sweep for tips on proper wood burning.
Plant trees or shrubs to shade air-conditioning units but not to block the airflow. A unit operating in the shade uses as much as 10% less electricity than the same one operating in the sun.
The lower the U-value, the better the insulation. In colder climates, a U-value of 0.35 or below is recommended. These windows have at least double glazing and low-e coating.
To reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, have your heating equipment "tuned up" each year, preferably before the heating season begins. Your local gas orelectricty company has highly trained professionals who can provide this service. The service technician should also check your chimney and vent pipes for blockage. It is also a good idea to make sure your home is adequately ventilated, particularly if you have added insulation to your home, had major renovations done or have enclosed your heating system to increase living space.
To stop airflow between walls and floors, Install foam gaskets on all outlets and switches, and use child safety plugs backed with punch-outs to keep the cold air from coming through the sockets. Remember, be careful whenever working around electricity.
If your house is for sale in summer, run the air conditioner. If it's 90 degrees inside, buyers will pay more attention to the temperature than to the attractive features of the house.
Prefabricated chimneys for heating systems, and for fireplaces, are equipped with rain caps to keep rain water from entering the chimney flue. Look for a flat or curved plate at the very top of the chimney, the rain cap can be viewed from the ground. It is important for the home owner to periodically verify the integrity of the rain cap, especially after heavy rains and winds because weakened rain caps can often fail under these conditions. If a rain cap becomes dislodged, rain water can enter the flue and then run down into the heating system, or fireplace, and cause damage or system mal-function. During a rain, look for water and rust in and about the chimney flue located at the heating system, or fireplace; this is a sure sign that something is wrong. In addition, a dislodged rain cap can sometimes cause a blockage in the flue which resticts the natural flow of toxic combustion gasses which contain carbon monoxide produced by the heating system, or fireplace; if the flow of flue gasses is restricted, toxic carbon monoxide may enter the house.
Most experts agree that caulking and weather stripping any gaps will pay for itself within one year in energy savings. Caulking and weather stripping will also alleviate drafts and help your home feel warmer when it's cold outside.
Whether you test for radon yourself or hire a state-certified tester or a privately certified tester, all radon tests should be taken for a minimum of 48 hours. A longer period of testing is required for some devices.
A fuel tank can tip over or float in a flood, causing fuel to spill or catch fire. Cleaning up a house that has been inundated with flood waters containing fuel oil can be extremely difficult and costly. Fuel tanks should be securely anchored to the floor. Make sure vents and fill line openings are above projected flood levels. Propane tanks are the property of the propane company. You will need written permission to anchor them. Ask whether the company can do it first. Make sure all work conforms to state and local building codes.