HARRISBURG — With colder winter weather on the way, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission offered tips for Pennsylvanians to save money on utility bills by winterizing their homes. Home winterization can keep homes warmer while using less energy and costing less money.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the average Pa. family consumes more than 10,000 kWh of electricity annually and spends more than $2,000 per year on energy bills. Half the energy consumed in Pennsylvania homes is for space heating. Fortunately, homeowners can take small steps to make their home safe and more efficient.
“Taking the time now to prepare for the weather ahead is important. Making simple changes to your home can help you to stay warm, save money and save energy,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell.
Consider these tips this winter to keep your home running efficiently:
Set back the thermostat; each degree lowered can save up to 3 percent on heating. A programmable thermostat, which costs as little as $20 at a local hardware store, can be programmed to be set back automatically at designated time frames, saving residents more energy and money.
Clean warm-air registers, baseboard heaters, and radiators regularly and make sure they are not blocked by furniture, carpeting or drapes.
Weather-strip windows and exterior doors where individuals can feel leakage. Check the bottom of the door to see if there’s a gap. If there is a gap of a quarter inch or more, significant air can flow in and out of the house. Install a door sweep on the bottom of the door. Weather-stripping for the windows and doors is available in foam, rubber, vinyl and metal. For homes without storm windows, consider purchasing a window insulator kit (plastic window coverings). Install insulating drapes or curtains for windows that still feel drafty after weatherizing.
Use the sunlight to heat your home by opening the curtains on south-facing windows during sunny days and close all curtains at night.
Check the door to the attic to make sure it seals well and closes tightly; some manufacturers make insulated attic covers.
Do not heat unused spaces, other than as needed to prevent freezing of pipes. Close vents in unused rooms.
If residents have a wood stove, be sure to clean the flue vent and inside of the stove regularly.
If residents have a fireplace, reduce heat loss from the fireplace by keeping the damper closed; when open, warm air goes up the chimney. Install tempered glass and a heat-air exchange system that blows warm air back into the room. Check the seal on the fireplace damper and ensure it is snug and add caulking around the hearth. It is a good idea to have a carbon monoxide monitor, with a fresh battery, as well.
If residents have a furnace, have it checked by a heating professional. This will make the unit more energy efficient, and provide peace of mind that it is running safely.
A heating professional should check the exhaust flue and venting to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
Be sure to replace the air filter, as directed, to keep the air in the home clean and the unit running well. A properly maintained furnace can result in a 10 percent reduction in fuel consumed.