Getting Started In Your Home
Everyday we produce and use energy. But what if there were ways we could actually use less energy without even noticing a difference in our day-to-day lives? The good news is there are many ways we can be energy efficient and most changes are simple. They can even save you hundreds of dollars a year.
Get an Assessment
Savings you can see.
The average homeowner saves 33 percent a year on energy costs after making the recommended changes from an assessment. Stop wasting money, if you’re ready to save hundreds of dollars a year sign up for an energy audit today.
Create some comfort.
Insulating your home can cut heating costs by 60 percent, according to the University of Alaska Fairbanks. If you live in an older home, odds are you need to add insulation and that may also be the case with some newer homes. But before you add insulation, you need to know where and what kind. The easiest way to find this information is to hire a professional energy auditor. There are ways to uncover the information on your own; builders should have the information for newer homes but if you live in an older home you will need to inspect the insulation. The Department of Energy has detailed instructions for inspecting your insulation.
Seal Air Ducts
Quit blowing your money.
Unsealed air ducts can make your energy bill skyrocket. If your ducts leak heat into unheated places, we’re talking about potentially thousands of dollars a year in unnecessary heating costs. Some minor repairs can be made on your own but you may need to hire a professional.
1. Look for obvious holes and separations.
2. Seal your ducts with mastic, butyl tape or foil tape (look for tape with the Underwriters Laboratories logo).
3. Hire a professional for more in depth repairs.
If you have high utility bills all year long and rooms that are difficult to heat then your home may be suffering from poor ducts.
Tune Your Heating System
Time for a check up.
Sometimes you need to hire a professional to get the job done, and that’s the case when you want to give your heating system a checkup. Take the advice of your heating system’s manual on how often it should undergo regular maintenance, this will prevent problems in the future.
Seal Your Fireplace
Fireplaces are a huge source of heat loss, especially if you leave the flue open all the time. We all know warm air rises and it will fly right up the chimney if you don’t shut the damper.
If your fireplace is more for style than warmth, consider plugging and sealing the chimney flue. If you love to spend cold evenings snuggling by a fire there are plenty of ways to trap the heat inside. Check to make sure the damper is tight and keep it shut when you’re not using the fireplace. If you don’t already have one, buy a top-sealing damper, it keeps heat in more efficiently than other models. Also, add caulking around the hearth. More expensive investment options include upgrading to glass doors and buying a heat-exchange system.
Check the Garage Door
Hot rod, hot garage.
In Alaska, our garage is often an extension of our home, housing our snowmachines, boats and ATVs. It’s easy to forget how much energy we waste opening that giant garage door, plus if you spend a lot of time tinkering with your toys, you will want the garage to be comfortable.
You can also purchase insulated garage doors that will also improve the energy efficiency of your household. These doors are rated on what’s called the R-value, which rates the thickness of the insulation and the chemical properties within the door. The higher the R-value, the warmer your garage will stay. If you’re home is attached to the garage, make sure the door connecting the two is insulated.
Maintain Water Heater
If you treat it right, it will stick around.
Like a pet fish, proper maintenance and care will make a big difference in the lifespan of your water heater.
To keep your water heater in tip-top shape consider flushing a quart of water from the tank every three months, check the temp and pressure valve twice a year and inspect the anode rod every three years.
If it’s time to replace it, check out these programs that can help pay to weatherize your home.
Clean the Coils
It’s cool to save.
Your fridge plays a major role in your energy bill, accounting for up to seven percent of your total energy use. Keep your fridge in working order can save you big bucks over time. Clean the coils once a year.
1. Unplug the fridge and shut off the water supply.
2. Locate the coil. Older refrigerators have coils on the back. On newer refrigerators the coils are usually located on the bottom (these can be tougher to access).
3. Grab a vacuum and a warm bucket of water, and get to work removing the gunk that has built up.
To see if it is time to do more than just clean the coils, check out the Refrigerator Retirement Savings Calculator here.