Affordable Ways to Winterize your Home

November 2, 2009 10:22:07 AM PST
Easy, affordable DIY ways to get the biggest bang for your energy efficient dollar.(PRESS RELEASE) While big ticket energy upgrades like solar panels and pellet stoves are all the rage, let's face it, many homeowners lack the budget for these types of investments. Instead, there are several easy, affordable DIY ways to get the biggest bang for your energy efficient dollar, says Spike Carlsen, contributing editor of The Family Handyman and author of Reader's Digest Complete Do-It-Yourself Manual and The Family Handyman's Save Energy to Save Money series

From sealing leaks to maintaining appliances to changing everyday behaviors, there is a vast array of energy saving "to dos" for the homeowner to tackle, but with time short and dollars scarce, the big questions are "where do I begin" and "what do I need to do?"

Carlsen believes home improvement is accessible to everyone. It doesn't always require a big budget to make a big impact, especially when it comes to home energy savings, he says. He offers these affordable, energy-saving tips that will allow homeowners to see and feel a difference immediately:

Tip 1: Seal the Gaps and Cracks but Remember Not All Caulk Saves Energy Over Time

  • Many homeowners know that home air sealing with caulk, foam and weather-stripping is an effective, affordable, and immediate way to save energy.
  • But what few homeowners realize is that not all caulk saves energy over time. Be sure to make energy savings count by using a 100% silicone caulk, not acrylic or siliconized acrylic as mistakenly believed by many Americans, or energy (and dollars) could be escaping from your home.
  • Here's why:
    The most common places for air leakage to occur include attics, basements, windows and doors.
    These areas of the home are prone to extreme temperature fluctuations, moisture and humidity, and the damaging effects of UV rays.
    When exposed to these harsh conditions, acrylic caulk can crack and crumble. As acrylic caulk dries it also shrinks, which may cause cracks over time. These leaks can lead to higher energy bills, water damage and mold growth.
    100 percent silicone on the other hand remains unaffected by all weather and temperature conditions so cracks, where energy dollars can pass, will not form.

    Tip 2: Install Programmable Thermostats But Makes Sure The Unit is Easy-to-Use and Placed in The Right Area of Your Home To Maximize Savings

  • Programmable thermostats which range in price from $20 to $160 more than pay for themselves. According to energystar.gov, homeowners can save about $180 a year by properly setting and maintaining the units.
  • But homeowners need to keep in mind two things when trying to maximize their savings with these handy units:
    Don't be fooled and pay for buttons and lights. Instead, buy simple to ensure you can program and operate your thermostat correctly making sure the unit you select is EnergyStar compliant and,
    Be sure it is mounted on an interior wall away from heating or cooling vents or other sources of heat or drafts. A false reading as a result of cool drafts or excessive warm air can lead to unnecessary energy consumption.

    Tip 3: CFLs Produce a Great Return and Today's New Styles Are Brighter and More Compatible with Existing Lamps and Shades

  • CFLs are worth the investment! According to Energystar.gov, the average CFL light bulb will save the homeowner about 30 dollars over its lifetime and pay for itself in about just six months. It uses 75 percent less energy and lasts about 10 times longer than an incandescent bulb.
  • But CFLs have suffered from negative perceptions that are addressed with today's newer models:
    For some consumers, the light from CFLs seemed to dim. If this is your impression, buy a brighter bulb -- CFL equivalencies are based on the overall light output of the bulbs. But because CFL light appears diffuse, the same output isn't always enough.
    Other consumers found the spiral shape challenging as it did not conform to their existing lampshades or aesthetically was not pleasing. A new style of bulbs addresses the shape issue by putting the spiral inside of a round glass globe.
    Look for the term "A19" (shape for regular incandescent) or A21 for the same shape but slightly larger bulb.

    Tip 4: Lastly, There Are Several FREE Ways to Save Energy, too. Just Change Energy-Wasting Habits

  • By eliminating inefficient behaviors and making simple lifestyle changes that don't cost a dime, you can make your home more energy efficient. A few of my favorite suggestions include:
    Lower the shades, raise the windows--In colder climates on cool nights, lower your heavier drapery to further insulate the home. On cool nights in warmer climates, raise those windows and give the A/C a break.
    Cool it with the water heater--Lower the setting on your water heater to 120 degrees F. This is a comfortable temperature for just about everyone and you'll prevent scalding accidents.
    Clean it up--Clean appliances run more efficiently. Clean refrigerator coils and furnace blower fans with a soft brush, keep dryer vents open and clean, make sure air conditioner coils are clean and free of debris before summer cooling season arrives. ALWAYS make certain power is off before cleaning any appliance or heating and cooling equipment

    For more information on how to weatherize your home, please visit www.caulkandsave.com

    About Spike Carlsen

    Spike Carlsen is an editor, author, carpenter and woodworker, who has been immersed in the world of wood and woodworking for over 30 years. He is former Executive Editor of Family Handyman magazine where he wrote hundreds of articles on home improvement and oversaw the creation of dozens of books including the revised Readers Digest Complete Do-It-Yourself Manual. He has written articles for Old House Journal, Fine Homebuilding, Workbench, The Minneapolis Star Tribune and other publications. In addition, Carlsen is the author of A Splintered History of Wood.


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