Just in time for the COLD winter ahead, five low cost ideas to have a "greener" home and save some money on those heating bills.
1) Boost insulation. Insulation can settle and lose its fluffiness, reducing the ability to protect against energy loss. Your attic insulation needs to be at least one foot deep. So spend some dough to bulk up the attic insulation.
2) Have a blower test. Employ an energy auditor to find the areas in which air is escaping. If you plug cracks around windows, doors, pipes and light fixtures with caulk and weather stripping, you can tighten your home. But be aware better sealed homes need better ventilation. A build up of extra moisture and indoor pollutants can create a "sick" building. You may need to add a ventilation system since opening a window can defeat the purpose of sealing the house (loss of heat, etc).
3) Seal ductwork. Seal joints and openings around heating/cooling registers with sealant or metal tape (not duct tape). And close registers in areas not occupied regularly.
4) Upgrade windows. Windows are a weak spot for conserving energy. Many states provide incentives to install storm windows, solar glazing for windows (to help control solar heat gain and loss), window films and weather stripping. Also some will subsidize upgrades to new energy-efficient windows. For a list of programs, go to EfficientWindows.org.
5) Install fans. Ceiling fans improve air flow and make you feel cooler in hot weather. Choose Energy Star-rated ones. Attic fans or whole house fans reduce heat build up, making your home cooler.
Now enjoy the snow!