Little Changes Make a Big Difference

  • The most important single step in residential energy conservation is the installation of thermal insulation, which is specified in terms of thermal resistance (R-values). R-30 is recommended for ceilings under roofs or heated spaces; R-19 for exterior walls and floors over unheated areas.
  • Single-glazed windows – even those of high quality and in good repair – should have storm windows. A wood or metal frame storm window provides a second layer of glass and a dead-air space between the panes to retain the heat. Plastic storm window kits that you can buy at your local hardware store also can be used.
  • Add weather stripping and caulking around all doors and windows, including attic entryways, to reduce air leaks. You can also add caulking around baseboards, where walls meet walls, ceiling or floor, and around exterior faucets.
  • Some of the worst air leakage areas for the average home are exterior wall outlets (20 percent), the soleplate (25 percent), the duct system (14 percent), exterior windows (12 percent) and fireplaces (5 percent). Make sure all of these areas are properly prepared for winter.
  • Keep the overhead door of an attached garage closed to block winds that can seep into your home from the connecting door between the house and garage.
  • Fireplaces should have tightly fitting dampers which can be closed when the fireplace is not in use. Open dampers let the natural draft of your chimney pull warm air out of your home in the winter.
  • One of the biggest energy users in your home next to your heating and cooling systems is your hot water system. You might want to purchase a water heater insulation kit, especially in unheated areas, such as the garage. Hot water tanks are usually not insulated all that well, so an extra layer of protection will help to keep heat from being lost through the wall of the tank. Water heater insulation kits are relatively inexpensive and easy to install and they can do a lot to make your water heater more energy efficient.
  • Turn your thermostat back 5 degrees for 8 hours a day to cut your bill by as much as 5%.