Air leakage is a huge source of heat loss in most homes, but it is often very cost-effective to fix. The greater the temperature differential between inside and outside your house, the faster air leakage takes place and the easier it is to find. So these cold days can help you in your detective work.
Warm air pushes up and out holes high in your home, but is hard to feel. So take something that smokes, like incense, and hold it near typical high leakage areas to the attic or outside and watch for smoke being pulled out – attic hatch or stairwell, chimney penetrations, through and around recessed lights, ceiling fans, or other plumbing and electrical penetrations.
Cold air is pulled in lower areas of the home, especially in basements and crawl spaces. There you can usually feel the cold air blowing in on you hand, where the sill meets the foundation, around bulkhead doors, basement windows and other penetrations to the outside.
You can seal all of these high and low openings with caulk, spray foam or weather stipping. You can view a video that SERG helped produce on how to complete these and other Do-It-Yourself energy-saving measures at: www.cctv.org/node/82725
You can save a lot of energy by turning your thermostat down when you are away during the day or asleep at night. The general rule of thumb is that for every degree you set your thermostat back for 8 hours every day, you will cut your fuel use by 1%. So setting your thermostat back 10 degrees 8 hours a day while you are at work and another 8 hours a day while you are asleep, could save you 20% off your fuel bill. A programmable thermostat will help you do this automatically and let you bring the temps back up to a comfortable level by the time you get up or get home. Check out Energy Federation at www.EFI.org for programmable thermostats and other weatherization supplies You can also turn the heat off in areas of your home that you do not use during the winter. Be careful that water pipes do not freeze and condensation does not take place in those rooms.
You can check out other energy saving tips at: www.serg-info.org/energysaving-tips
For professional help on Buttoning Up your home, and access to financial incentives through the Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program, Vermonters can go to: www.efficiencyvermont.com/homeperformance
New Hampshire residents can go to: www.nhsaves.com