As the weather cools, the heating bills go up! The Energy Trust of Oregon has published a list of ten tips to help reduce the cost of heating this winter.
1. Turn down the thermostat when leaving the house. Even better, purchase a programmable thermostat, so you won’t have to remember!
2. Seal air leaks on exteriors walls, doors, and windows with caulk or weatherstripping. To check for leaks, hold a lit incense stick next to the opening and watch the smoke, or walk around with a damp hand to feel for air flow.
3. Seal leaking ducts with mastic sealant or metal tape. There are firms that will come out and test your ducts for leaks and fix them for you. Check in the phone book under “duct sealing” or “duct testing.”
4. Add insulation to attic, exterior wall, and crawl spaces.
5. Install plastic film on the inside of windows to improve their efficiency. The film is available at most home improvement stores.
6. Change furnace filters regularly, from every one to three months.
7. Close fireplace and wood stove dampers when not in use, to prevent air leakage or intrusion.
8. Install low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators to reduce the amount of hot water used. Also, limit showers to 5 minutes by using an egg timer.
9. Change incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescents. They are now available in different sizes and styles to match almost any fixture. Also, unplug electronic devices when not in use to avoid “phantom” energy loss. Or, plug a string of such devices into a power strip, and turn it off when the devices aren’t being used.
10. Replace old appliances with new Energy Star rated versions. Rebates may be available, and the fixtures will use considerably less energy (depending on how old the original appliances were).
Energy Trust of Oregon, Inc., is a nonprofit organization dedicated to changing how Oregonians use energy by promoting energy efficiency and clean renewable energy for Oregon customers of Portland General Electric, Pacific Power, NW Natural and Cascade Natural Gas. For more information, visit the Energy Trust Web site, www.energytrust.org, or call 1-866-368-7878.