It's possible to retrofit insulation into an existing home, even without the access provided by remodeling. The choices, however, are much more limited. There are some retrofit insulation products that are designed for minimal disruption to finished wall or ceiling surfaces. Significant gains in R-value, however, may mean hiring a professional to assess your needs and devise an energy savings plan. Small or large, insulation projects can yield substantial gains in R-value and in comfort.
Drain a quart of water from your water tank every 3 months to remove sediment that impedes heat transfer and lowers the efficiency of your heater. The type of water tank you have determines the steps to take, so follow the manufacturer's advice.
You can save on your heating and cooling bills by using a programmable thermostat that turns your heating and cooling system on and off at preprogrammed intervals.
Keep your furnace tuned and in top condition. Proper maintenance of your furnace can save 6 to 10 percent of your heating bill. Have a certified technician look at your furnace and make the necessary adjustments before the heating season starts.
Small openings on the exterior of your home can allow for significant energy loss. Caulk around openings for electric, gas, oil and water supply lines, drainage pipes, plumbing for outside spigots, cable TV and telephone cables. Dryer vents, mechanical ventilation system vents and combustion air supply vents for furnaces should also be sealed.
Turn the air conditioner thermostat up to at least 78° or higher or use a programmable thermostat. Close doors to unused rooms. Turn air conditioners off when no one is home.
Mild winters mean more chimney fires! It's true. People choke back their woodstoves in mild weather - leading to more creosote accumulation - but many don't realize this, so they skip getting it cleaned, thinking it doesn't need it as bad as it would after a cold winter.
In either a wood stove or fireplace, the easiest and best fire is built by using a mixture of both softwoods–from trees such as pines and firs–and hardwoods, such as oak, eucalyptus, cedar and so on. Softwoods start burning easily, and the hardwoods provide for long burning and good "coaling" qualities. A bed of ashes underneath the grate produces steady heat and aids in igniting new fuel as it is added. The fire will continue burning if small amounts of wood are added at regular intervals. In fact, more efficient combustion results from burning small loads of wood with sufficient air than from burning large loads with minimal air.
If you have central air conditioning, make sure the outdoor units have clearance for air flow. Cut back any plants that may have grown too close.
The use of ridge vent has increased greatly during the past ten years and when used with a soffit vent or vented drip edge, it is a very effective means of venting rafter bays, especially in cathedral ceiling areas. An air space in the rafter bay must be provided for full airflow. There are various styrofoam vent channels that, installed in the rafter bay, keep the insulation from fully filling the bay, to allow for air space. This can help keep condensation from forming on exposed roof nail ends and dripping onto the ceiling materials below during winter months.