RISMEDIA, December 30, 2009—We’ve all been there on making well-intentioned New Year’s resolutions, among them promising faithfully to go on a diet, exercise and eat healthier. And sometimes, we may even keep those resolutions for a little while before falling off the wagon.
As part of the yearly New Year’s resolution-making ritual, the Alliance to Save Energy encourages consumers to check out their home’s physical fitness and, depending on its overall state of health, put it on an ‘energy diet.’
How is your Home’s ‘Physical Fitness?’
The “physical fitness” of your home can make the difference between soaring energy bills or comfortable savings this winter. By cutting wasteful energy use, an energy-efficient home is a strong defense against winter winds, rain, sleet, snow, and chill, while also reducing air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions and increasing national security.
And Uncle Sam is offering another incentive for putting your home on an energy diet: A 30% tax credit—a dollar-for-dollar reduction in your income taxes owed—of up to $1,500 during the remainder of 2009 and throughout 2010 for specific energy efficiency home improvements. Details on qualifying products, including insulation and sealing products, highly efficient furnaces, heat pumps, and windows, are available at www.ase.org/taxcredits.
The Alliance offers the following physical fitness tips to help cut your home’s energy bills and increase comfort.
Is Your Home Leaking Energy Dollars?
First plug air leaks. Your heating and cooling dollars could be going out your windows, doors, and electrical outlets. Seal all those air leaks with sealant or caulking and weather stripping.
Then, “insulate” yourself from price shocks. Install appropriate insulation for your climate based on R-values. Start with attic insulation, followed by exterior and basement walls, floors, and crawl spaces. Insulate and seal attic air ducts. These first two steps will increase your comfort, make your home quieter, and reduce your heating and cooling costs by up to 20%.
Go “window shopping” at www.efficientwindows.org to discover how high-performance ENERGY STAR-labeled windows can cut heating costs by as much as 30% compared to single-pane windows, while increasing indoor comfort and lessening fading of home furnishings.
Improve How You Care for and Heat Your Home
Heating accounts for 31% of the typical home’s energy costs. Sealing and insulating your home, as well as the other energy efficiency measures below, will lower your heating bills, increase your comfort, and decrease your carbon footprint.
Properly maintain your HVAC system. Just as a tune-up for your car can improve your gas mileage, a semi-annual or yearly tune-up of your heating and cooling system can improve efficiency and comfort.
Keep furnace filters clean. Check your filter every month, especially during heavy use months (winter and summer), and change it if it looks dirty. At a minimum, change the filter every three months. A dirty filter will slow down air flow and make the system work harder to keep you warm–wasting energy. A clean filter will also prevent dust and dirt from building up in the system, which could require expensive maintenance and/or cause early system failure.
Seal your heating and cooling ducts. In a typical house with a forced air system, about 20% of the air that moves through the duct system is lost due to leaks, holes, and poorly connected ducts. Sealing and insulating ducts increases efficiency, lowers home energy bills, and can often pay for itself in energy savings. Insulate ducts in unheated areas such as attics, crawlspaces, and garages with duct insulation that carries an R-value of 6 or higher. Also, a well-designed and sealed duct system may make it possible to downsize to a smaller, less costly heating and cooling system that will provide better dehumidification.
Let a programmable thermostat “remember” to lower the heat while your home is empty and/or overnight to reduce heating costs by up to 10%–and allow you to come home and wake up to a toasty, comfortable house.
Have to replace your HVAC equipment? Consider installing ENERGY STAR-qualified heating and cooling equipment. Installed correctly, these high-efficiency units can save up to 20% on heating and cooling costs. And, certain highly-efficient models qualify for the current federal income tax credit.
Open curtains and other window treatments on your west- and south-facing windows during the day to allow sunlight to naturally heat your home, and close them at night.
Replacing or purchasing energy-using and energy-related products? Save up to 30% in related energy bills with products earning the ENERGY STAR label, the symbol of energy efficiency, on some 50 product categories, including appliances, electronics, windows, lighting, and home office equipment.
For more information, visit www.ase.org.