Insulating Your Attic is Like a Stocking Cap for Your Home
As you add a fuzzy hat, scarf and gloves to your wardrobe to help keep you warm this winter, remember your home needs to weather colder temperatures as well. Proper home insulation is an important step in saving money on your energy bill and making you comfortable in your home as the temperatures dip into the single digits or below this winter.
If your home feels drafty and could use more insulation, always start at the top since the majority of heat loss in a home is through the roof. Start with the attic or ceiling and work your way down through the walls toward the basement or crawl space. If you start adding insulation at the lowest level (basement or crawl space) and work your way up, upper floors could feel cool or drafty in the winter months since extra insulation below will cause the cool air to rise.
While addressing your home’s insulation is one of the more costly expenditures you can make to save on your utility bill, it’s the biggest bang for your energy buck, paying for itself in the long run.
Many utilities offer energy audits to assess your home’s overall efficiency — not just insulation. Walk-through evaluations are usually free and blower door tests may or may not be complimentary. In addition, many co-ops offer online interactive home energy efficiency tools and a bill calculator to project energy costs.
Safe Electricity offers other ways to help reduce energy costs this winter:
- If you don’t have one, consider installing a programmable or smart thermostat. Both are programmable, but a smart thermostat allows you to monitor temperatures from your cell phone, even if you’re not home. The smart version includes other features, such as adaptive technology, which adjusts the temperature based on your heating and cooling history.
- Caulk windows and door frames that leak air. Also replace or update door seals if they are old or ineffective.
- Bundle up and turn down your thermostat. For every degree you turn it down, you can save up to 3 percent on your energy bill.
- If you do use a portable space heater, use it judiciously and safely. Using one for long lengths of time can cause your energy bill to spike since it draws so much power to run. If you use it continuously, it can add $100 or more to your monthly energy bill. Space heaters touted as energy efficient aren’t necessarily so; they may just cycle off more often.
- If you can, turn down your water heater a few degrees; 120 degrees or less is recommended, especially with small children, to prevent accidental scalds.
Precaution for Pipes
During extreme cold snaps, prevent water pipes from freezing by keeping faucets turned on slightly so water drips from the tap. Know how to shut off water valves just in case a pipe bursts.
Average Prices for Residential Electricity
2017 figures, in cents per kWh.
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration. Numbers rounded to nearest tenth of a cent.
For more energy-saving tips, go to SafeElectricity.org.