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10 Ways to Lower Your Heating Costs

1. TAKE THE HEAT DOWN A NOTCH

Each degree you lower your thermostat for a period of at least eight hours can make your heating bill 1 percent cheaper, theEnergy Departmentestimates.

2. INSTALL A PROGRAMMABLE THERMOSTAT

Afraid you won’t remember to turn down the heat before you go to bed or leave the house? A programmable thermostat controls the temperature 24/7. Resist the temptation to mess with the settings when you get chilly, lest you eat into the savings. Grab a sweater instead

3. REDUCE DRAFTS

You can save as much as 30 percent on energy bills by covering up drafty windows and doors and sealing air leaks, according to the Department of Energy. Drafts can affect the thermostat reading, too, so these simple fixes may solve more than one winter energy challenge.

4. INSTALL STORM DOORS AND WINDOWS

This is a more permanent way to cut down on drafts that enter the house through inefficient doors and windows. The home improvement siteImproveNetalleges this project can increase your home’s energy efficiency by 45 percent and lays out the costs, pros, and cons.

5. CHANGE FURNACE FILTERS

Dirty furnace filters can restrict airflow, making the heating system work harder, which in turn can boost your bill. Filters should be cleaned or replaced monthly during the cold season. Keeping tabs on the furnace filter can also reduce medical bills. The more efficient the filter, the more allergens and debris it will catch and prevent from circulating in the air.

6. RUN FANS IN REVERSE

Did you know that changing the direction of a ceiling fan could shave as much as 10 percent off your heating bill? Good Housekeeping explains that flipping a switch on the fan turns the traditional counterclockwise rotation that produces a cool breeze to a clockwise rotation that pushes the warm air back into circulation

7. TURN DOWN THE WATER HEATER

The Simple Dollar points out that the standard setting for a hot water heater is 140 degrees Fahrenheit, and you can lower energy costs 6 to 10 percent by lowering the temperature to 120 degrees, which is still plenty warm. Other options, such as a tankless or solar water heater, can reduce the cost of heating water even more but require an initial investment of at least several hundred dollars.

8. KEEP MAINTENANCE IN MIND

Just like any other major appliance, afurnaceneeds regular tune-ups. Keeping it clean and properly adjusted helps it run efficiently and prolongs its lifespan. Check with your utility company or furnace manufacturer — many offer free annual inspections.

9. USE CAULK AND WEATHERSTRIPPING

Windows and doors aren’t the only spots where warm air leaks out of the house. Keep an eye out for places where two types of building materials meet — corners, chimneys, and around pipes and wires. These energy suckers can be plugged up with caulk and weatherstripping.

10. SEAL THE DUCTS

The Energy Department warns that about 20 percent of heated air can escape from the ductwork in a house. Properly sealed ductwork also better protects against dust and mold. Note that sealing ducts is not the same as cleaning them. In fact, many studies have shown that cleaning the ductwork is unnecessary unless there is an air quality issue.

Excerpt from MSNnews.com

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Fall To Do List

As the weather cools down, our thoughts turn to visions of … leaf piles, broken gutters, and stopped-up chimneys. Or rather, how to deal with such household chores before the winter sets in. Here are 10 jobs that should top your priority list this fall.

1. Change batteries in smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. It’s a great idea to do this on the day Daylight Savings Time ends. Check the expiration on your fire extinguisher and review your escape plan with your family as well.

2. Inspect your fireplace. Have the chimney cleaned professionally, clear out any leftover ashes from last year from disposal chute if you have one, fix cracked glass doors.

3. Get the garage into shape. Gather up summer items such as lawn chairs, umbrellas, garden tools, and beach toys, pack them securely and store them neatly. Move snow shovels, snow sports equipment, and other winter tools to the front of your storage areas so they are easily accessible.

4. Ready the garden for winter. If you’re in colder climes, decide if you’ll be feeding the birds, and get your feeders cleaned and filled. Empty hoses and pack them away. If your winter weather is more temperate, you may want to prepare for winter planting of garlic, leeks, onions, lettuce, and potatoes.

5. Clear the deck. Clean, repair, cover and store your patio furniture and barbecue to prevent weather damage.

6. Get to the gutters. Clean and inspect them. Make sure your downspouts are clear and that you replace any broken extensions so that water is properly diverted away from your homes foundation.

7. Prepare the furnace. Check that it’s working properly before you really need it — you don’t want to be waiting for the repair service when the temperature’s dropped into the single digits. Better yet, get a professional cleaning and inspection.

8. Set up humidifiers. If you don’t have a central humidifier, pull out your portables and get ready to use them once you turn the heat on. Dry air not only harms your lungs and skin; it can also damage wood furniture, which can become brittle and crack.

9. Consider an exterior paint job. Fall is a great time of year to freshen your home’s exterior paint, with lower temperatures and low humidity.

10. Install a programmable thermostat. It doesn’t have to be as fancy [or expensive] as the Nest. Preset temperatures for different times of day and save yourself some money on heating bills — plus ensure you’ve got a cozy home to return to.