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Winterize Your Home Now, Reduce Energy Costs Later

Autumn may offer homeowners a much appreciated break from summer-time cooling, yet before long it will be time to power up the thermostat again. To help reduce potential higher heating costs and increase your home’s energy efficiency and comfort, give your home a thorough energy inspection and make sure it’s adequately insulated and prepped for the upcoming cold months. This can be done either on your own or with the help of a professional energy auditor. Begin the inspection with these simple tips:

Doors: Keep the bitter cold where it belongs, outside. Any door in your home that opens to the outdoors should be well examined for any trace of an opening. Even the most microscopic hole can allow a draft of cold air to seep into your home. “Look for places where you can see light coming in,” suggests Michael Sznajderman of Alabama Power. Air leaks can be prevented by applying weatherstripping around a door’s frame, and a door sweep to seal the bottom of the door. Storm doors also help to reduce wasted energy by creating “dead space” between the cold outside air and your home’s entryway.

Windows: According to the U.S. Department of Energy, energy-efficient windows can reduce average heating costs by as much as 20 to 30%. Yet, if your home isn’t equipped with newer windows, and installing them isn’t a feasible option, there are other simple steps you can take to winterize your windows. Check for air leaks in windows in the same manner as the doors. If a draft or sign of light is found seeping through the window’s frame, install weatherstripping, or apply caulking around the window’s perimeter. Using heavier drapes or installing blinds can also help create an extra barrier. However, on any south-facing windows, make sure to keep blinds and curtains open during the day to benefit from the added warmth of sunlight.

Thermostat: It’s the worst feeling-you get to work and realize you forgot to lower the temperature on the thermostat. You can practically visualize the cost of your error in the form of dollar bills shooting out through the heating vents. Installing a programmable thermostat can help reduce the fear of wasteful energy expenses simply by allowing you the freedom to pre-set desired temperatures throughout any time of the day. Also, at night, consider lowering the heat by just a few degrees and using an extra blanket or two while sleeping, suggests Sznajderman, who says that simple changes in habits like these are what really help make a big difference in reducing energy costs.

Ceiling fans: Although ceiling fans are most known for their ability to help circulate cool air during the warmer seasons, they can also be just as useful during the cooler months. Warmer air has a natural tendency to rise, and normally hovers near the ceiling of a room. By simply changing the direction of a ceiling fan’s rotation, you will direct the blades to force the cool air in a room upward, and the warm air downward-into your living space.

Heating vents: Having clean filters for a home’s heating and cooling system is another simple way to prevent wasted energy costs, says Sznajderman. Alabama Power recommends checking filters and air vents once a month to make sure they are clean and free of any debris. Also, make sure that air flow is unobstructed by any furniture, draperies, or other household objects-doing so will lead to higher energy efficiency.

For more information and additional energy-saving tips, please visit Alabama Power.

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