- The only way to determine the overall energy
performance of your home is through an Energy
Audit performed by a professional, using
special testing equipment such as a Blower
Door, Draft Test and Gas Combustion Analyzer,
and infra-red optics. But perhaps the most important tool, which
catches some of the most serious problems,
is a careful visual inspection.
- Many of the items listed below are no-cost
or low-cost remedies to high heating bills,
and will increase comfort for your family.
- Your home's air and thermal barriers dictate
its energy performance, as well as your heating
bill and comfort level, both winter and summer.
- Building science has determined that 70-77%
of a typical home's heat-loss is through
infiltration -- air that leaks in around
your doors, windows, electric outlets, basement
- The next most important is your home's insulation.
How much insulation is in the walls and attic
may actually be less important than how well
it was installed, and how carefully it has
been kept in place.
- The ultimate air-leakage goal is to reduce
your home's "Air Exchanges per Hour"
(ACH) to 1/3rd. Most homes built in NH before
1970 have an ACH of 4 or 5 (that's when the
wind moves the curtains.) Most homes built
under the energy codes of the last 30 years
have an ACH of about 2.
- The Energy Star program is asking builders
to achieve an ACH of 1.25 per hour for new
construction. With professional help, it
is sometimes possible to achieve an Energy
Star rating for an existing home.
- For NH Energy incentives and rebates, go
to the DSIRE web site and click on NH.
Here are some of the ways you can improve
your own home:
Heating Energy Savings Tips
Maintenance and Operations
- Make sure your heating system receives professional
maintenance each year
- Clean and replace filters on furnaces once
a month as needed
- Set your water heater temperature at 120
degrees. Insulating your cold water pipes
prevents condensation, water damage and mold
- Insulate heating ducts in unheated areas
such as attics and crawlspaces, and keep
them in good repair, to prevent heat loss
of up to 60 percent at the registers.
- Check the ducts on forced hot air systems
and baseboards on hot water systems. Ducts
aren't always easy to see, but you can often
find them exposed in the attic, the basement,
and in crawl spaces. Ducts should be vacuumed
once every few years, to clean the abundant
dust, animal hair, and other things that
gather in that will impede the flow of hot
air through the house. Clean hot-air registers,
baseboard heaters, and radiators as needed;
make sure furniture, carpeting and drapes
do not block them.
- Remember the chimney. Chimneys need to be
swept; however, it does not need to be done
every year. Just make sure it has been at
least inspected before you start using it
for the year. However, woodstove chimneys
should be cleaned once a year. Buy a cap
for your chimney to keep foreign objects
out. Also to keep cold air out, fireplace/woodstove
owners should keep the damper closed when
it isn't in use. Fireplace owners should
also keep the glass doors shut when it is
not in use. If the chimney is not used, install
an inflatable chimney pillow or caulked-in
foam plug to better seal
- Make sure all fan-driven exterior vents (dryer,
stove, bathroom etc) have an exterior flap
that closes tightly when the fan is off.
Clear vent flaps of lint and other debris
so they close tightly.
- Check for holes or cracks around walls, ceilings,
windows, doors, light and plumbing fixtures,
switches, and electrical outlets that can
leak air in and out of your home
- Drain a quart of water from your hot 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
- Place heat-resistant radiator reflectors
between exterior walls and the radiator
- Insulate your hot water heater tank and hot
water pipes to prevent heat loss. This can
raise water temperatures by 2-4 degrees F
and you can lower your water costs.
- Block the leaks. Check the most common areas
that leak, such as recessed lighting, window
frames, door frames, attic hatches, plumbing
and electrical bypasses in the attic, and
electrical outlets. Use weather-stripping,
door sweeps, foam, and caulk to seal up leaks.
This could reduce energy usage by 10-20%
- Insulate. You should have a minimum of 12
inches of (Fiberglass) insulation in your
attic. If you don't know how to tell, look
at your ceiling joists. If you can see them,
you need more insulation. Also look into
insulating your walls and floors above crawl
spaces, as well as the attic hatch or stairs.
- Don't forget the windows. Storm windows are
very helpful, especially if you have old,
single-pane glass windows. Replacing windows
can be very pricey and the experts say to
do a few at a time. However, in the meantime,
buy a kit you can get at your local hardware
store. It is a special kind of plastic sheeting
that is affixed to the window's interior
with a hair dryer. The heat from the hairdryer
shrinks the sheeting to the window. It is
pretty inexpensive, can be quite effective,
and is easy to remove in the spring.
- Stone wall foundations in old homes are incredibly
leaky. Hire a contractor to spray 2 inches
of sprayed foam, or ridged insulation from
the subfloor down to the floor this will
stop air infiltration, insulate against freezing
temperatures and reduce moisture infiltration
- Install heat traps on the hot and cold pipes
at the water heater to prevent heat loss.
Some new water heaters have built-in heat
- Insulate at least 6 feet of the hot and cold
water pipes connected to the water heater
General Energy Saving Tips
Maintenance and Operations
- Run your kitchen, bath and other ventilation
fans for at least 20 minutes after you are
done cooking or bathing. Using a timer on
your fan can help.
- Bleed trapped air from hot water radiators
once or twice a season; if in doubt about
how to perform the task, call a professional.
- Use fans during the summer to create a wind
chill effect that will make your home feel
more comfortable. If using AC, a ceiling
fan will allow you to raise the thermostat
setting by 4 degrees F with no reduction
- Reverse your fan. By reversing the direction
of the fan after summer, the fan will push
warm air downwards and force it to re-circulate.
To do this, when you look up at the fan makes
sure it is turning clockwise.
- Check the furnace. Turn the furnace on now
to make sure it is working before the cold
weather hits. It is a good idea to have the
furnace cleaned and tuned annually. While
this maintenance is being performed by heating
technician, make sure of the following:
- the thermostat and pilot light are working
- the fuel pipe entering your furnace doesn't
have a leak
- check the heating exchanger for cracks, as
a crack can bring carbon monoxide in to the
- make sure to change the filter in forced
hot air systems. The filter should be changed
monthly during the heating season. Homeowners
can change the furnace filter themselves.
- Clean your gutters. In the fall, once the
leaves have fallen, make sure to clean out
the gutters on your house, as clogged gutters
can cause water to back up and freeze, causing
ice jams. Such ice jams will cause water
to seep into your home. When washing out
the gutters, also look for leaks and misaligned
- Check the alarms. Check the operation of
all of your smoke detectors. Also, check
to make sure your fire extinguisher is still
where it should be and up to date. Finally,
make sure to have a carbon monoxide detector.
Every home should have at least one.
- Air dry dishes instead of using the dishwasher's
- Turn off the computer and monitor when not
- Plug in home electronics, such as TV's and
DVD players, into power strips; turn the
power strip off when the equipment is not
in use. When you replace this equipment make
sure it is Energy Star qualified models.
- Take short showers (5 minutes) instead of
baths. 15% of an average home energy bill
goes to heating water
- Use cold water for laundry and save up to
$63 a year
- Wash only full loads of clothes and dishes.
- If heating a swimming pool, consider a swimming
pool cover. Evaporation is by far the largest
source of energy loss in swimming pools
- For a quick hand rinse, do not turn on the
hot water. By the time the water gets hot,
you finished rinsing your hands
- Install a programmable thermostat that adjusts
the temperature according to your schedule.
Reducing your thermostat by 7 degrees at
night will save you 10% in your heating costs
- Wrap the pipes. Before the temperature hits
freezing, make certain that the water to
your hose is shut off inside your house and
that the excess is draining. Next, go looking
for pipes in the crawlspaces, basement, and
garages that aren't insulated. Wrap them
with pre-molded foam rubber sleeves .
- Swap out any incandescent bulbs. If every
US household replaced just one incandescent
bulb with a Energy Star qualified bulb, it
would save enough energy to light 7 million
homes and save $600 million in utility bills
- Look for ways to use lighting control, such
as occupancy sensors, dimmers, or timer to
reduce lighting energy use.
- Consider natural-gas on-demand or tank less
water heaters. Researchers have found savings
can be up to 30% compared with a standard
natural-gas storage tank water heater
- Consider installing a drain water waste heat
recovery system. A recent DOE study showed
energy savings of 25% to about 30% for water
heating using such a system
- Buy an energy efficient water heater. It
may cost more initially but energy savings
will continue during the lifetime of the
- Although most water heaters last 10-15 years,
it is best to start shopping for a new one
if yours is more than 7 years old. Do your
research before you must have one
- Repair leaky faucets promptly; a leaky faucet
wastes gallons of water in a short period
- Install aerating, low-flow faucets and shower
- Select a shower head with a flow rate of
less than 2.5 gpm for maximum water efficiency.
Before 1992, some showerheads had flow rates
of 5.5 gpm, so you might want to replace
them if you are not sure of their flow rate.s
- You might qualify for tax credits or rebates
for buying a solar water heater