By Sheri Bone
Old Man Winter is here! Snow, wind, cold temps. What do you do to keep warm in your home? Are you nervous about your energy bill? What are some things you can do that don’t cost much money, but will help you stay toasty warm throughout the season?
If you haven’t done so already, check to see if there are any energy resource programs in your area. Find out about Weatherization Assistance Programs, HEAP (Home Energy Assistance Program) and check with your energy provider to see if there is a program you can use to have your home audited for energy efficiency. You may qualify to have this done at no cost to you.
You can also do your own informal audit. Check to see where air is coming into your home. Feel around doors and windows. Is air also coming in through outlets and light switches? You can caulk around windows and doors (don’t caulk the windows shut!) and use foam gaskets behind the switch plates on exterior walls.
Before you install any insulation or add to existing insulation to your attic, check for places that air might leak there. Are there holes that were drilled for plumbing or electrical needs? You may have to seal those openings with a spray foam sealant and then put insulation down. Insulation is not effective in keeping the air from moving through it, so get the most for your money by sealing those leaks first!
Despite what the commercials say, new windows are not the only way to keep energy costs down. There are other low cost methods to keep the jet stream from entering your home. Lock your windows to help them seal tightly. No locks? Rope caulk around the sashes. Use plastic sheeting and curtains to help keep cold air out.
Install energy efficient lighting (compact fluorescent bulbs use one fourth the amount of energy as do equivalent incandescent bulbs) and when replacing appliances, check for the Energy Star. Want more ideas? Check with your local Cooperative Extension office, and go to http://www.eere.energy.gov/ or in New York State go to www.getenergysmart.org
Sheri Bone works on energy conservation and financial management issues at Yates County Cornell Cooperative Extension in Penn Yan, NY.