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8 Energy Saving Tips to Cut Your Gas Bill

8 Energy Saving Tips to Cut Your Gas Bill

Energy Saving Tips

As temperatures fall, you’ll seek a heat system in your home to keep you cozy and warm.

Yet no one wants toasty temperatures indoors if it means your utility costs will rise to unreasonable levels.

Consider these eight energy saving tips below, so you aren’t sweating when your winter gas bills come, and as the weather warms, evaluate your winterizing measures to see which ones make sense to maintain through the spring and summer months.

1. Program Your Thermostat

Set your thermostat as low as is comfortable in the winter. For each degree you raise your thermostat setting, your fuel bill climbs 3%.

Consider slipping into a sweater before you crank up the temperature. Don’t forget to program the thermostat to a lower temperature during the hours you are away from home, either.

If your thermostat allows you to program different temperature zones, turn the heat down or off in rooms that aren’t being used.

2. Maintain Filters and Heating System Equipment

Regularly clean or replace the filters for your furnace and central heating system. Likewise, make sure to clean warm-air registers, baseboard heaters and radiators—ensuring that they are clean and not blocked by debris or trapped air.

If you’re not sure how to bleed trapped air from a hot-water heat radiator or flush the water heater, call a professional. They also can perform a routine check of your central heating/cooling duct system for leaks.

A simple task like cleaning equipment and making sure it’s not leaking or obstructed by furniture, carpet or drapes can improve your system’s energy efficiency by 10% while extending the life of your equipment.

3. Install Radiator Reflectors

If you use radiators to heat your home, placing heat-resistant radiator reflectors between exterior walls and the radiators will help prevent you from heating walls unnecessarily and can reduce heat loss.

4. Add Insulation

Wrapping insulation around pipes and your water heater can help minimize heat loss as water runs from the water heater to your faucets.

By adding insulation, you won’t have to wait as long for hot water, you will conserve water, and you can save up to 10% of your total energy costs.

Just be sure to leave the air intake vent uncovered on the water heater.

5. Seal Openings

It’s foolish to spend money heating your home if the warm air can escape. Caulk and weather-strip around exterior seams, cracks and openings. Pay extra attention around windows and at points where various exterior materials like wood, brick and vinyl siding meet.

On the inside, caulking and weather-stripping around windows and door frames will cut down on drafts. A draft guard along the bottom of an exterior door also can help prevent heat from escaping.

If you’re not using your chimney, close the damper. Additionally, air sealing and properly insulating the attics, walls, floors over crawl spaces and accessible basement rim joists can save up to 10% of total energy costs.

6. Replace Windows

Consider replacing old windows with high-efficiency Energy Star double-pane windows with protective coatings that reflect heat back into your home during winter. This can reduce your heating and cooling costs by up to 15%.

If such a retrofit is not in your budget, cover your windows with clear plastic film. At a typical cost of $4 to $6 per window, the film creates an insulating air pocket between the plastic and the window, reducing heat loss through windows by between 25% and 50%.

7. Use Fans Wisely

It may sound simple, but using fans judiciously can save energy, too. In just one hour, kitchen, bath and other ventilating fans can pull out a houseful of warm air. So turn ventilation fans off as soon as they have done the job.

Aim keep the humidity level between 30% and 60%. In rooms where you have a ceiling fan, reverse the direction so that they move in a clockwise direction and push hot air near the ceiling toward the floor.

8. Adjust Drapes

When it’s cold outside, keep drapes and shades on your south-facing windows open during the day to allow sunlight to enter your home, and then you can close them at night to reduce the chill you may feel from cold windows.

This article is updated from a previous version on realtor.com®.

How to Choose the Most Important Features in a Home

How to Choose the Most Important Features in a Home

January 15, 2015

Buying a home is a long process. Approaching it correctly from the beginning can save a great deal of time and effort later and help improve your chances of finding the right home for you.

Make a List of the Most Important Aspects You Want in a Home

Determining exactly what to look for is often the most difficult part of the home search. Homes come in varying shapes and sizes, with different colors and characteristics. Paying attention to all of these details can become problematic, causing you to lose focus.

The best way to avoid this is to sit down ahead of time and make a list of the most important aspects of the home you want to buy. For example, you likely have a certain number of bedrooms in mind. Maybe you want to be in a certain school district, or perhaps you want a larger kitchen.

Some experts recommend making a secondary list of desirable characteristics that you can do without, but would prefer to have, if possible. This list can be longer and used to narrow down choices or decide between homes if more than one is appealing.