Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Some energy tips and what we've accomplished so far

Lately I've been discussing some pretty large projects to improve the efficiency and comfort of our home, but at the end of his report, Brian left us with a list of easy, inexpensive (or free!) ways we could start making changes today. Without any further ado:

--Lower the set point on your thermostat during heating season. When you aren't home (at work, or on vacation), and while you sleep, you could set it back 5 degrees or more. While you are home, try just setting it one degree lower than usual--it might save you 3% on your bills. If you have a programmable thermostat, it makes all these changes easier, of course.

--In the winter, try to capture any warmth from the sun that shines in your windows by opening curtains and blinds. Conversely, if it is dark or cloudy, shutting the drapes reduces heat loss from the room out that same window. In the summer, best to keep blinds down on sunny hot days so you don't overheat your home (and make your cooling system work that much harder).

--Get your systems serviced on a regular recommended schedule; at the very least change/clean any filters to keep things running clean.

--Shut and lock windows in the winter---it helps make a tighter air seal.

--Lower the set point  on your water heater 5-10 degrees (only if you never run out of hot water). Another thing to look out for---some dishwashers require a certain water temp, so you don't want to go below that.

--Switch out your shower heads for high efficiency ones---they aerate the water so the pressure is good, but you cut water use up to 50%.

--Another bigger project, but if the timing is right: switch out your toilet for one with a WaterSense label. They use 20% less water than current standards but work just as well, and could save you thousands of dollars over the use of the toilet.

--Putting an aerator in your existing sink faucet or getting a new WaterSense faucet could also save you in water usage and hot water bills.

So there you have it--hopefully you will have found at least one of these tips useful!

As I mentioned, we have already started the process in our quest to tighten our house (sorry I keep saying that--it just reminds me of the scene in Knocked Up when Katherine Heigl is not so much told to lose weight--which is illegal--but instead is told to "tighten").  Before the audit, we had already decided we had to replace our screen doors. Both of them had been damaged by our dog since our arrival, and they weren't in the best shape to begin with. They also did nothing as far as keeping out the cold winds blowin'.

The other one looked the same, but had chicken wire for a screen.
We had to order custom sizes (since nothing in this house is regular), and even so, C had to do some creative shaving here and there to make them fit (and all with a minimum of swearing; in fact, there was even whistling!), but let me tell you, these doors are awesome! They have retractable screens on the top, so we can have as much or as little screen showing as we like:

Retractable screen
These doors are also thick and substantial, and when they are closed they create a powerful vacuum that seals out everything; it even makes our interior doors more difficult to open. We went from feeling drafts blowing around these doors from across the room to feeling nothing at all using just the storm door! Definitely an improvement.

The door---we initially preferred a solid (not glass) bottom, but this was the only style available in custom sizes.
Thursday afternoon we expect delivery of another energy saver--I'll fill you in then!

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