It’s the middle of October and as the termination dust slips down the side of the mountain, it’s time to think about energy efficiency. Energy costs in Alaska can take a huge bite out of the family budget!
Here are steps you can take immediately to save money this winter:
1. Get your heating system serviced.
a. If you have a hot water baseboard heating system or forced-air heating with a boiler or furnace, annual maintenance will ensure efficiency and reliability. The cost for this service can run $250-$300. Knowing you will burn less fuel AND your heat is less likely to go out during a cold snap – priceless!
b. If you heat with a wood stove, pellet stove or oil stove, you aren’t immune to service! Keeping your system clean and running efficiently could save lots of trouble – and lots of fuel in the future! Get that chimney cleaned. One of the most common causes of home fires in winter is what is called a “stack fire”. This is when the built up creosote and other gunk along the walls of the chimney catch on fire.
c. If you have an electric baseboard system, take off the covers and vacuum out all the lint and remove all the little toys that have collected in there. Getting the dust off the fins inside the registers will increase your efficiency.
2. Don’t let your water heater get a chill.
a. Your water heater needs love too! While the technician is on hand servicing your heating system, see if they will service your water heater too. Those people who are comfortable with Do It Yourself: http://www.instructables.com/id/Water-Heater-Maintenance
b. Consider giving your water heater a blankie! There are kits especially made to wrap your water heater safely or you can devise your own. Just be sure not to cover anything that gets hot from electricity, hot water pipes, or gas/propane.
3. Find and stop those air leaks!
a. If you rent, this is going to be more difficult than if the home is your own, but air leaks are a major cause of heat loss in our homes. Places where air leaks into and out of your home are going to become quite obvious over the next few weeks. Stop them as you find them. Here are some obvious targets:
i. Caulk and weather strip doors and windows that leak air.
ii. Caulk and seal air leaks where plumbing, ducting or electrical wiring penetrates through walls, floors ceilings and soffits over cabinets.
iii. Look for dirty spots on your ceilings, walls and carpets, which may indicate air leaks at the joint where the wall comes to the ceiling or floor. Caulk these joints.
iv. Install storm windows if you have them, or get plastic from the hardware store. If this is a major source of air leakage, contact me for information on home energy improvement loans and grants!