Thankfully, we had a mild winter this year, but it's always good to look for ways to conserve on home energy use. Kevin Brenner, an energy efficiency expert and CEO of GetHealthyHome.com, offers these tips on how to make your home more efficient:
Have an energy audit
Conduct an energy assessment with a professional. Some utility companies now offer free or low-cost assessments. It's much easier to address problem areas in your home once you can identify them.
Easy changes to make
Change a few simple things in your home for optimum energy performance, such as:
• Open curtains and shades on south facing windows to allow the warmth of the sun in during cooler weather.
• Recaulk old windows.
• Move your furniture off of drafty exterior walls and onto interior walls.
• Replace air filters regularly.
• Install high-grade weather stripping around doors.
• Use ceiling fans to circulate the air; in the winter, reverse the fan to pull the air up.
• Close the fireplace damper when not in use, or go a step further and install a chimney balloon to prevent drafts.
• Turn down your thermostat 2 degrees.
• Replace leaky faucets —they are an energy drainer — and install low-flow aerators.
Upgrade or repair appliances
Overhaul or replace furnaces, hot water heaters and appliances that are a major energy drain. Said Brenner: "The initial investment will pay off in the long run, and you may even qualify for a discount or rebate on the improvements."
• Replace an older furnace with a high efficiency system: If your furnace was built before 1992 and has a standing pilot, it probably wastes 35 percent of the fuel it uses, and it is probably near the end of its service life.
• Improve the efficiency of your hot water system: First, turn down the temperature of your water heater to the warm setting (120 degrees). Second, insulate your hot water lines so they don't cool off as quickly between uses. Third, use low-flow fixtures for showers and baths.
• Buy appliances with the "Energy Star" sticker from here on. They will make your house energy-efficient and also give you a higher energy rating when the next buyer comes in. (Look for front-loading washers and dryers with a turnoff sensor.)
Keep your records
Be a good historian of your home, the same way you keep your medical history, because the space we live in is one of the most influential factors in our health and well being. Document everything!