Whether you intend to install insulation yourself or hire a contractor, make sure that you know the guaranteed minimum R-value you are looking for. Have any contractor state that installed R-value as part of the bid. Also, prepare for the project by assessing what needs to be done to reduce air infiltration before installation. Include the cost of these added components and labor in your cost calculations. Keep in mind, too, that a tight home requires ventilation, so you may need to take another look at your bathroom and whole house ventilation strategies. Armed with all of this information, select the insulation that meets your energy efficiency, budgetary, and installation requirements. The end result will be a job well done, with energy and cost savings to tally long into the future.
Buy a new water heater with a thick, insulating shell; while it may cost more initially than one without insulation, the energy savings will continue during the lifetime of the appliance.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, in 1997 the average house spent over $1300 in energy costs. 44% of those costs, or about $600, came from heating and cooling. Yet, by setting the thermostat down just one degree a home could, over an eight-hour period, reduce energy costs by 1%. Doesn't sound like much? Look at the math: If you set the thermostat back by 10 degrees for the eight nighttime sleeping hours, and did this for a whole month you could lower your monthly bill by 10 percent. Do the same for the eight hours you're at work and you're looking at 20 percent. For the average home this could mean a $20 savings on the monthly heating costs with similar savings for the cooling season. A programmable thermostat can ensure those savings and pay for itself in one season.
Water heating typically accounts for 14 percent of your utility bill. Repairing leaky faucets, insulating the water heater tank and hot water pipes, and installing low-flow faucets and shower heads can result in significant additional savings.
Bathroom fan fixtures can poke into the attic insulation and create a pathway for air leaks. Caulk around them from below with high-temperature flexible caulk.
Check your delivery ticket to ensure that the amount of gallons delivered was mechanically printed on the ticket. Many states do not allow the gallonage amount to be handwritten, it must be mechanically printed on the ticket. Also, be sure to retain all your delivery slips and check to make sure the price per gallon appears on the ticket at time of delivery.
To help reduce creosote build-up in your wood-burning chimney system, burn only well-seasoned hardwoods. If you don't know how to build a hot, safe fire, ask your certified chimney sweep for tips on proper wood-burning techniques.
If you have a radiator in your home, be sure to "bleed out" trapped air in the system at least one to two times each year. Air trapped in the radiator blocks the flow of water and makes the system run inefficiently.
Empty dehumidifiers daily and clean often. If possible, have the appliance drip directly into a drain. Follow manufacturer's instructions for cleaning and maintenance. Always disconnect the appliance before cleaning.
It is as important to understand the space you're heating as it is to know the unit you are heating with. Examine your home and rooms. Remember that south-facing rooms may overheat during the day and call for extra heat in the evening. Bedrooms may be closed off or out of use during the day, but create high demand at night. While zoning will answer many of these issues, two-stage or multi-stage furnaces are the ideal solution since they can deliver high, medium or low levels of heat depending on demand, without creating excess. When designing heat zones or controlling heat through registers, excess heat must always be taken into consideration. If it is not dumped into an excess heat zone, such as a spare room, workshop, basement or garage, the heat can back up into the furnace, causing damage.