A Community Action Agency
Low-Cost Tips for Reducing Home Heating and Cooling Costs
Homeowners can significantly reduce their utility bills by making simple, low-cost home improvements, as described below. For more tips, visit the U.S. Department of Energy's Energy Savers Web site at www.energysavers.gov.
Keeping Out the Elements:
1) Dropped Ceiling
2) Recessed light
3) Attic Entrance
4) Sill plates
5) Water and Furnace Flues
6) All ducts
7) Door frames
8) Chimney flashing
9) Window frames
10) Electrical outlets and switches
11) Plumbing and utilities access
Caulking is an easy, energy-saving project you can do yourself. It is relatively inexpensive - and very effective. In fact, it will usually pay for itself in energy savings within one year. Caulk is a compound used for filling cracks, holes, crevices and joints on both the inside and outside of your home. You will need only a few simple tools and a minimum of skill to caulk these areas. Start at the back of your house and work toward the front so that your skill level is improved by the time you caulk places that are visible.
Try to choose a mild day to tackle this project. The outside temperature should be above 40°F for the caulk to be applied correctly. So, plan to caulk during the spring, summer or fall for best results. Old, cracked caulk should be removed before new is applied. Check your home repair center for a "puttying tool" that will make the job easier and provide a more professional look.
As a general rule, caulk should be applied wherever two different building materials meet on the interior or exterior of your home. Different building materials expand and contract at various rates. Through the years, with temperature extremes and caulk drying out, cracks develop between materials. Because these cracks allow air infiltration, the cracks need to be caulked.
On the interior of your home, you can check for air leakage by moving your hand around the windows and doors on a windy day. If you can feel air movement, you need to caulk and/or weatherstrip. You will probably be surprised to find how many spots are "air leakers!"
The following are areas that should be checked:
1. Around door and window frames - inside and out; check window pane putty.
2. Places where brick and wood siding meet.
3. Joints between the chimney and siding.
4. Between the foundation and walls.
5. Around mail chutes.
6. Around electrical and gas service entrances, cable T.V. and phone lines, and outdoor water faucets.
7. Where dryer vents pass through walls.=
8. Cracks in bricks, siding, stucco and foundation.
9. Around air conditioners.
10. Around vents and fans.
11. Wherever two different materials meet.
The material used in sealing air leaks depends on the size of the gaps and where they are located. Caulk is best for cracks and gaps less than 1/4" wide. Expanding foam sealant is good for sealing larger cracks and holes that are protected from sunlight and moisture. Rigid foam insulation may be used for sealing very large openings such as plumbing chases and attic hatch covers. Fiberglass insulation can also be used for sealing large holes, but it needs to be wrapped in plastic or stuffed in plastic bags because air can leak through fiberglass.
|Oil based||1-5 yrs||Poor||Low||Very
|Acrylic latex||2-10 yrs||Fair to good||Moderate||Easy
to apply, water clean-up, paintable.
|Butyl rubber||5-10 yrs||Fair||Moderate||Difficult
to apply, solvent clean-up, high moisture resistance.
clean-up, excellent elasticity,
to high adheres well to most surfaces.
also available in clear.
The average family's indoor water usage is about 50 gallons of water per person per day. If your family's water usage is more than that amount, you need to look at your water use habits. Flushing the toilet accounts for about 42 percent of the total, bathing is 32 percent, and laundry is 14 percent. The amount of water that is used for drinking or cooking is probably less than 4 percent of the total. The Energy Policy Act of 1992 has maximum water-use standards for plumbing fixtures. Toilets manufactured after January 1, 1994, have a 1.46 gallon per flush flow (as opposed to 3.5 or 5 gallons per flush for older units), and showerheads will have a maximum flow rate of 2.5 gallons per minute. Replacing a showerhead or an older-model toilet is a good investment.
Planting trees and shrubs around your home will help reduce your heating and cooling costs. How much it reduces costs depends on the choice of plants, where you locate them, the location of your home and its construction.
Trees and shrubs also reduce noise and air pollution and make your home more attractive and more valuable.
Therefore, money spent on landscaping your home is a good investment.
An unprotected home loses much more heat on a cold, windy day than on an equally cold, still day. Well-located trees and shrubs can intercept the wind and cut your heat loss. Studies of windbreaks show they can reduce winter fuel consumption by 10 percent or more. Trees and shrubs planted close to a building reduce wind currents that otherwise would chill the outside surfaces. Foundation plantings create a "dead air" space which slows the escape of heat from a building.
Foundation plantings also help reduce air infiltration losses around the foundation of the house. Closely planted evergreens are suggested for this area.
Deciduous trees lose their leaves in the fall and allow the winter sun to enter the windows and warm the inside space. In the summer, their leaf cover provides cool shade which reduces your home's need for mechanical air conditioning.
The maximum air-conditioning need in Missouri is usually in late July and early August, and most electrical power for air conditioning will be used in the late afternoon hours. With this in mind, landscape plantings should include trees and tall shrubs to shade west-facing walls, windows, and the southwest corner of the home during the hottest summer afternoons. Quick-growing vines may be planted on trellises to provide summer shade screens while trees are growing. If there is no roof overhang to significantly reduce the effects of the sun on south walls, deciduous trees and shrubs should also be planted to shade south walls and windows.
When planting trees, choose the site carefully. Plant tall growing trees such as hickory, walnut, oak, pecan, sweetgum and pine well away from any power lines so branches do not tangle in the wires. Avoid planting trees over underground utility lines.
of Natural Resources
Division of Energy
P.O. Box 176
Jefferson City, MO 65102
1-800-361-4827 or (573) 751-3443
Web site: http://www.dnr.mo.gov/energy/
Community Action Agency of St. Louis County, Inc.
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