Trees that lose their leaves in the fall (i.e., deciduous) are the most effective at reducing heating and cooling energy costs. When selectively placed around a house, they provide excellent protection from the summer sun but permit winter sunlight to reach and warm your house. The height, growth rate, branch spread, and shape are all factors to consider in choosing a tree.
If mold is a problem in your home, you should clean up the mold promptly and fix the water problem. It is important to dry water-damaged areas and items within 24-48 hours to prevent mold growth.
To deter mold, keep indoor humidity low. If possible, keep indoor humidity below 60 percent (ideally between 30 and 50 percent) relative humidity. Relative humidity can be measured with a moisture or humidity meter, a small, inexpensive ($10-$50) instrument available at many hardware stores.
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.
Purchase a heater with a guard around the heating element. A wire grill or other protection is essential to keep fingers or fabrics from touching the hot element. Portable electric heaters that heat by circulating oil or water, however, usually have lower surface temperatures and may not need guards.
Look for one that is listed with a nationally-recognized testing laboratory. These heaters have been tested to meet specific safety standards, and manufacturers are required to provide important use and care information to the consumer. On heaters that are not listed, consumers have less assurance that the safety features and operating instructions are adequate.
Humid air feels warmer than dry air. Increasing the humidity of your home also helps you resist winter colds and moisturizes dry skin. Operating a room humidifier will make you feel more comfortable. If your heating system has a humidifier, make sure that itâ€™s functioning properly. You can also add humidity by keeping house plants. Plants clean the air and add moisture to it at the same time. Putting trays of water on top of radiators also helps. So does leaving the bathroom door open after a shower, to let that warm steamy air circulate through the house.
Storm windows can reduce your heat loss through the windows by 25% to 50%. Storm windows should have weatherstripping at all moveable joints; be made of strong, durable materials; and have interlocking or overlapping joints. Low-e storm windows save even more energy.
Double-pane windows with low-e coating on the glass reflect heat back into the room during the winter months.
To help keep your house cool, close curtains on south- and west-facing windows. You may also consider installing awnings on these windows.