Inefficient fireplaces can cost you heat and money this winter. Follow these tips to save money and energy:
- Keep fireplace damper closed when not in use. An open damper can result in up to 10% loss in home heating loss.
- Be sure to close fireplace doors to lessen heat loss. If you do not have glass doors, install a chimney draft guard to reduce heat loss up the chimney.
- Check for air leaks around the fireplace hearth. Leaks should be properly sealed with caulk.
- Check the seals around your fireplace flue damper—if the seals aren’t tight, you could be losing home heating through the chimney.
- Install tempered glass doors and a heat-air exchange system that blows warm air back into the room.
These tips should keep you warm in your house all winter.
Properly sealing cracks and openings in you home can significantly reduce heating and cooling costs throughout the year. You may already have identified obvious air leaks, but you will need to do a bit more investigation to find the less obvious gaps to properly seal your home.
Here are several tests that can be used to check for air leaks:
- Window Seal Check – Shut the window on a piece of paper. If paper can be pulled without tearing paper, than window should be resealed.
- Visual Gap Check – After daylight hours, shine a light through closed window and door seam and have a partner confirm if light is visible on other side.
- Hot/Cold Air Check – Use your hands to feel around door and window seal checking for cold or hot air coming in through a leak.
Common areas to check for leaks are between brick and wood siding, between foundation and walls, and between the chimney and siding. In addition, you should inspect around these areas for leaks and drafts:
- Door and window frames
- Mail chutes
- Electrical and gas service entrances
- Cable TV and phone lines
- Outdoor water faucets
- Where dryer vents pass through walls
- Bricks, siding, stucco, and foundation
- Air conditioners
- Vents and fans
Home Pressurization Test
If you are having difficulty locating leaks and drafts, you may want to conduct a basic building pressurization test:
- First, close all exterior doors, windows and fireplace flues.
- Turn off all combustion appliances such as gas burning furnaces and water heaters.
- Then turn on all exhaust fans (generally located in the kitchen and bathrooms) or use a large window fan to suck the air out of the rooms.
This test increases infiltration through cracks and leaks, making them easier to detect. You can use incense sticks or your damp hand to locate these leaks. If you use incense sticks, moving air will cause the smoke to drift, and if you use your damp hand, any drafts will feel cool to your hand.
The Smart Faucet is a 1.5gpm aerator with an antimicrobial handle that controls water flow from the faucet. Water only flows when the handle is depressed, although there is a locking disk for continuous flow when needed. Installation may require a wrench but is easy and installation only takes a few minutes. The Smart Faucet requires no batteries or electricity to control water usage.
The Smart Faucet reports savings of up to 15,000 gallons when compared with a standard 2.5gpm aerator and the company offers a one-year limited warranty on parts and components.
Save water while you are soaping up your hands or brushing your teeth with this automatic faucet shut off valve. Great for disabled, elderly, children, arthritic hands or any situation where you don’t want to touch the faucet handles. Set the water handles to desired volume and mix after installing, push back on the lever for water. Let go of the lever and it shuts off the water.
- Beautiful chrome finish Faucet Shut Off Valve
- Installs on most bathroom faucets in minutes
- No batteries, No electricity, No plumber, No special tools
- Antimicrobial handle
- Made in the USA
Experts are anticipating that the solar energy market in the state of Texas to achieve significant growth over the next several years. According to to the Solar Energy Industry Association:
- Texas ranks 13th in the country in installed solar capacity, with enough solar energy installations to power 12,300 homes.
- Residential and commercial photovoltaic systems prices fell by 22 percent over the last year.
- More than 280 solar companies are actively working in the state of Texas, employing more than 3,000 Texans.
Hot roofs absorb heat, causing air conditioner systems to work harder to cool during the warmer months of the year.
A cool roof uses material that is designed to reflect more sunlight and absorb less heat than a standard roof. Cool roofs can be made of a highly reflective type of paint, a sheet covering, or highly reflective tiles or shingles. Cool Roofs can lower the temperature of your roof by up to 50 degrees, which will reduce cooling costs.
- Clean Refrigerator Coils – Coils can collect dust, making them less efficient for cooling. Be sure to clean coils two times per year to eliminate buildup and reduce energy use by up to 6%.
- Clean Ventilation – Air conditioning vents and dirty air filters should be cleaned and/or replaced regularly. Changing filters can reduce HVAC energy use and electricity costs from 5 to 15%.
- Inspect Vent Hoods – Check vent hoods for need of cleaning or filter replacements.
Energy Star certified ventilation fans can use 60% less energy than standard models.
Fix leaks. The most common fixture that leaks is the toilet flapper. Checking for leaks should be part of your overall maintenance plan and should be done on a regular basis. Perform a water audit. Take a look at your water meter when no one is likely to be using water. If the meter is moving, you have a leak.
Install water-saving devices. Can you transform your single flush toilets to dual flush with a kit? How about installing a Smart Faucet in every bathroom? The EPA has rolled a complete line of water saving fixtures under its WaterSense label, however, but these are merely minimums. Individuals should go beyond the minimum by installing 1.5 gallons per minute (gpm) shower heads when the WaterSense minimum allows shower heads with flow rates of 2.5gpm. Rebates may also be available from your local utility to promote the installation of new high efficiency toilets that utilize 1.28 gallons per flush or better.
Upgrade to water saving appliances. Old dishwashers and top-loading washing machines are incredible inefficient, utilizing as much as 25 gallons per load of dishes and 35 gallons of water per load of laundry. New high-efficiency models utilize a fraction of the water. Dishwashers in the two gallon range are very effective and front-loading washing machines use about a third of the water of what top-loaders use and rebates may be available. The less water an appliance uses, the less electricity and natural gas that will be needed to heat that water.
Rethink landscaping. Plant what’s appropriate for your region and you will reduce water consumption, increase habitat for native species and raise the value of your property. Re-landscaping is a big expense, but you are paying to water and maintain plants every year, year and year out, when you could be pocketing the money you currently budget for water.