UNMC LiveGreen - Getting your ducts in a row

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Despite the warm weather, winter is coming, and late summer and fall is the perfect time to start preparing your home. There are steps you can take to make your house more energy efficient, including:

Install storm doors and windows, making sure they close securely.

Remove window A/C units.

  • If you leave a window unit in place, put a cover on it and seal the edges to the window frame.

If you're hardcore:

Plastic window insulation adds another buffer against the cold, and the additional still air space helps your home hold heat.

Add more insulation.

  • Add insulation to your walls and attic.
  • Insulate your pipes and hot water heater if they are warm to the touch.
  • Insulate the basement rim joist that separates the frame of your house from the foundation.

Use a programmable thermostat.

  • Turn the heat down to 65° F when you leave the house and when you sleep.
  • Put on an extra layer of clothes and set your thermostat as low as you comfortably can when you're home.

Run ceiling fans clockwise to circulate warmer air down into the living space.

Turn down the water heater. Lowering the temperature to 120° F can reduce your water heating costs six to 10 percent.

Locate air leaks.
  • Plug all holes and caulk all gaps where different building materials meet -- along the foundation and where chimneys, pipes and wires enter the home.
  • Light a stick of incense or a candle and move it around windows, doors and baseboards -- where the smoke or flame wavers, you have a draft.
  • Close the damper on your fireplace when you're not using it.
  • Check the access to your attic -- caulk the frame where it meets the ceiling and place a gasket around the door.

Stop Drafts

  • Weather strip windows/exterior doors, adjust or replace door sweeps.
  • Put draft snakes against doors and on window sills, or use rolled up towels.

Insulate electrical boxes that house outlets and switches in exterior walls using pre-cut foam gaskets.

Have your heating system professionally tuned-up to keep it humming.

  • Clean or replace furnace filters once a month, vacuum dirt off the coils of the air conditioner.
  • Open and clean vents in rooms you use; close vents in unused rooms.

Dirt streaks on your duct work indicate leaks.

  • Fix them with tape approved for duct sealing. Look carefully; it's not "duct tape."
  • Call a professional if they're very dirty or worn.

Drain hoses, sprinklers and exterior faucets.

  • Seal water leaks.
  • Shut off exterior faucets with an interior valve and drain the faucets.

Change the batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

Clean gutters so leaf debris doesn't cause ice dams on the roof.

Check the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency for rebates and incentives if you're adding insulation or replacing the furnace or water heater.


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