Home Energy Makeover

Home Energy Makeover

Keep yourself and your home snug in winter without turning up the heat. Follow these five tips from Dan Chiras, a green building consultant and author of Green Home Improvement (RSMeans, 2008), and save as much as 30 to 50 percent on your heating bill.

1 SEAL CRACKS. Fill in tiny cracks in doors and windows with caulk or weather stripping. (A natural water-based caulk such as Safecoat is a good nontoxic option.)
SAVINGS: Caulking and weather stripping will pay for itself in reduced heating costs within a year.

2 ADD INSULATION. After sealing leaks, bulk up on insulation, especially in the attic. Visit simply insulate.org to find out how much insulation you need for your climate and green2green.org to locate nontoxic, natural insulation in your area.
SAVINGS: An insulated attic saves 20 to 35 percent in heating costs.

3 AUTOMATE YOUR THERMOSTAT. A programmable thermostat (around $100) lets you turn the heat down at night and when you’re not at home (most people set it to 65 degrees during these times).
SAVINGS: Turn down your thermostat seven degrees for eight hours a day to save as much as 10 percent on heating costs per year.

4 INSTALL STORM WINDOWS. Interior storm windows prevent drafts and cost just $7.50 to $12.50 per square foot. Energy Star-certifi ed windows are a bigger investment ($10,000 to $30,000 per house) but can save you up to $465 a year when replacing single-pane windows and up to $111 a year when replacing double-pane windows.
SAVINGS: Storm windows can reduce winter heat loss by as much as 50 percent.

5 RUN THE FAN. If you have a ceiling fan, run it on the slowest speed in a clockwise direction: it pulls cool air up and displaces warmer air near the ceiling by pushing it down the walls to circulate throughout the house. A desk fan placed near a heat source will have a similar effect.
SAVINGS: A fan can reduce heat consumption by up to 10 percent.