5 Low-Cost Steps to Save on Home Energy
Here are 5 inexpensive ways to lower your energy bills, courtesy of the AARP Bulletin:
- Seal wall openings. About 15 percent of air leakage in the average home occurs through wall openings. Spray insulating foam sealant around holes for outdoor faucets and wiring, and install foam gaskets around indoor electric outlets and light switches.
- Weatherize windows and doors. A few inexpensive tubes of water-based acrylic caulk can seal tiny leaks around windows and doors. For another $40 to $70, apply weather stripping to door frames.
- Update your thermostat. Do you like your house to cool at night but warm when you wake up? A programmable thermostat — one that you set to adjust temperatures automatically — can cut 20 percent from heating and cooling bills, according to Consumer Reports.
- Seal and wrap ductwork. As much as 30 percent of the air from the furnace or air conditioner escapes through ductwork, which expands and shrinks as temperatures change. If ducts are accessible — as in the basement, in the attic and at the furnace connection — seal joints with a waterproof, flexible sealant and wrap ductwork with HVAC insulation.
- Dress the hearth. A roaring fireplace burns more than just wood: One fire a week can boost winter heating costs about 10 percent, because the flames suck warm air out of the house and send it up the chimney. For $200, a glass screen or a heat exchanger can keep cold air out and reduce heat loss. For summer savings, inflatable fireplace draft-stoppers (starting at $50) prevent cooled air from escaping in older homes with leaky metal dampers.