Punxsutawney Phil -the famous forecasting groundhog- has predicted six more weeks of winter, which means you still have time to save energy this season. Actually, when it comes to heating bills this year it’s a “better, but still not-so-good news” situation. The U.S. Energy Information Administration is forecasting lower total household heating costs.
The not-so-good-news: It will still cost you as much as $2,000 (if you use heating oil) to keep your home warm and toasty:
U.S. Energy Information Administration (Oct. 2014)
Because Charter our Community is all about ensuring more people live in safe and healthy homes, we’ve teamed up with our partner Rebuilding Together to share these energy-saving tips. Whether you live on the coasts or anywhere in between, you can use these tips right now to help keep the warm air in, the cold air out and put more money in your pocket.
1. Insulate electrical outlets
You can pick up a pack of these pre-cut outlet sealers for just a couple of bucks. Just take off the face plate (make sure the power is turned off), slide one sealer underneath and replace the plate. Simple, right? You can also use outlet plug covers for more protection.
2. Install door sweeps
Door sweeps cover the gap between doors and your floor to prevent cold air from flowing in. Sweeps can also prevent moisture from rain and snow from creeping under the door. Most door sweeps don’t cost more than $15 and can easily be installed with a screwdriver; some are even peel-and-stick.
3. Seal air leaks
Ernest R. Prim/Shutterstock.com
Check all doors, windows, skylights and other potential sources for air leaks by simply holding your hand up in front of the area. Especially in winter, it is easy to feel cold air flowing. Seal any leaks with caulk, weather stripping or other appropriate airtight sealants. A good tube of caulk and a caulk gun will set you back about $20. A pack of weather stripping generally costs less than $15.
4. Insulate your attic access
This can be one of the biggest heat loss locations in your home, more so if your attic itself is not well-insulated. Sealing off your attic door with weather stripping is a simple way to significantly reduce energy loss. Depending on the type of hatch you have, you may also need to install fiberglass or rigid foam board on the back of the door.
5. Conduct a home energy audit
Get a better understanding of your energy use. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, you can save 5%-30% on your energy bill by making upgrades recommended by a professional home energy auditor. Hiring a private company to do the audit will cost you about $300-500, but many states and local utility companies offer subsidies. There are also online calculators which help you determine your home’s energy consumption and ways you can reduce it.