by guest bloggers from Energy Star and the Environmental Protection Agency
Heating your home is not only hard on your wallet, but it’s hard on the environment, too. When power plants burn fossil fuels to make electricity, they release greenhouse gases. By using less energy at home, you can help reduce the emissions that contribute to climate change, and save money while you’re at it. Here are 6 helpful energy-saving tips:
1. Use a programmable thermostat.
Program your thermostat to match your schedule. To maximize savings without sacrificing comfort, program the thermostat to lower the heat by 8°F or more when you’re away from home or asleep and save about $180 a year.
2. Seal leaks and insulate.
Seal air leaks using caulk, spray foam, or weather stripping. Insulate the attic to block winter heat loss and summer heat gain. This can help you save $200 a year.
3. Install a door sweep.
Door sweeps—or weather stops for garage doors—seal the gap between the bottom of the door and the threshold, preventing cold air from coming in and warm air from escaping.
4. Use a fireplace damper.
Fireplace dampers eliminate drafts by sealing your fireplace shut when you’re not using it. Consider using a fireplace “balloon” to make the seal even tighter.
5. Replace screens with storm windows.
During winter months, replace your screens with storm windows to provide an extra barrier from the cold outside air.
6. Use a space heater.
Radiant heaters directly heat a room and anyone in it. They allow you to turn down the temperature on your thermostat, which will cut energy used by the furnace, heat pump, or boiler.
- Dirt and neglect are the top causes of heating system failure. Schedule checkups with a licensed contractor to ensure that your system is operating at peak performance.
- Check your system’s air filter every month. If it’s dirty, change it. Change it at least every three months.
- If your system is more than 10 years old, consider replacing it with newer, more efficient equipment.
Energy Star was introduced by the Environmental Protection Agency in 1992 as a voluntary, market-based partnership to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions through energy efficiency. In 2011 alone, with the help of ENERGY STAR, Americans prevented more than 221 million metric tons of greenhouse-gas emissions—equivalent to the annual emissions from 43 million vehicles—and saved more than $23 billion on their utility bills. For more information about ENERGY STAR, visit energystar.gov.