Winter’s here. Snow storms are hitting the Great Lakes, and temperatures are dropping further south. It’s time to make sure you’re not wasting energy–and wasting money–on home heating costs. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the average U.S. family spends over $2,000 a year on home energy, with nearly half of that going to heat and cool the home.
To save money, the EPA recommends taking the following 5 steps:
1. Make sure your home heating system is operating at maximum efficiency. Are its filters clean? Are any ducts leaking? Especially if your system is more than 10 years old, you should have it checked by a licensed contractor to make sure it’s working properly. After that, check your filters once a month and replace them when dirty. Change them at least every three months.
2. Get a programmable thermostat that can automatically lower temperatures when you’re asleep or away from home. By taking just this one step, you can save up to $180 a year.
3. To avoid losing heat, seal all leaks with caulk, spray-on foam or weather stripping. To retain heat, add insulation. This EPA chart will tell you how much insulation your house needs by region.
4. Use the EPA website’s Home Energy Advisor to see how your home’s efficiency compares with others in your area. The Advisor can offer further suggestions on what steps to take to boost your home’s efficiency.
5. Make sure all the appliances and home-improvement products that you buy are energy-efficient. Look for ones that display the EPA’s Energy Star symbol. The EPA has qualified more than 60 types of products, ranging from heating and cooling equipment to light bulbs.
For more information on cutting energy costs this winter, see: www.energystar.gov/heatingtips
For ways to save energy year round, see: www.energystar.gov/changetheworld