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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Time to Analyze Your Home Energy Use ...

With an easy to follow checklist that helps you examine how you use energy at home.

Here is a simple quiz you can take to analyze your energy usage.

  1. Do you regularly maintain and service your heating and cooling system? That is, do you clean or replace filters regularly, according to manufacturer's instructions, and do you conduct an annual system tune-up?
  2. In summer, do you keep your air-conditioner thermostat set at 78 degrees Fahrenheit?
  3. In winter, do you keep your furnace thermostat set at 68 degrees Fahrenheit?
  4. Have you sealed windows with and exterior doors with weather stripping, and/or have you used caulk around windows and exterior doors to block out drafts?
  5. On hot summer days, do you block out the heat by closing drapes and blinds?
  6. In winter, do you open the drapes to allow natural daylight in to light and heat your home?
  7. Do you wash your laundry in cold water?
  8. Do you use water saving showerheads in your bathrooms?
  9. Do you only dry full loads in the clothes dryer?
  10. Do you only wash full loads in the dishwasher?
  11. Do you turn off lights, televisions, and computers when not using them?
  12. Do you use compact fluorescent lights in your home?
  13. Do you unplug appliances that are rarely used?
If you answered yes to only 5 of these questions, there is a lot you can do to improve energy efficiency and lower utility bills.

If you answered yes to at least 10 questions, then you're doing a really good job. Congratulations!

Online home energy check up tool

The Alliance to Save Energy, which has been promoting energy efficiency for decades, provides an online tool for assessing your energy use. It's not super intuitive to use, as tools go. But it can provide you with some ideas as to how you can improve energy efficiency.

The tool is here at


  1. How To Reduce Your Energy Bills / Energy Conservation Begins at Home

    Imagine leaving a window open all winter long -- the heat loss, cold drafts and wasted energy! If your home has a folding attic stair, a whole house fan or AC Return, a fireplace or a clothes dryer, that may be just what is occurring in your home every day.

    These often overlooked sources of heat loss and air leakage can cause heat to pour out and the cold outside air to rush in -- costing you higher heating bills.

    Air leaks are the largest source of heating and cooling loss in the home. Air leaks occur through the small cracks around doors, windows, pipes, etc. Most homeowners are well aware of the benefits caulk and weatherstripping provide to minimize heat loss and cold drafts.

    But what can you do about the four largest “holes” in your home -- the folding attic stair, the whole house fan or AC return, the fireplace, and the clothes dryer? Here are some tips and techniques that can easily, quickly and inexpensively seal and insulate these holes.

    Attic Stairs

    An easy, low-cost solution to this problem is to add an attic stair cover. An attic stair cover provides an air seal, reducing the air leaks. Add the desired amount of insulation over the cover to restore the insulation removed from the ceiling.

    Whole House Fans and AC Returns

    An easy, low-cost solution to this problem is to add a whole house fan cover. Installed from the attic side, the whole house fan cover is invisible. Cover the fan to reduce heating and air-conditioning loss, remove it when use of the fan is desired.


    A recent study showed that for many consumers, their heating bills may be more than $500 higher per winter due to the air leakage and wasted energy caused by fireplaces.

    An easy, low-cost solution to this problem is to add a fireplace draftstopper. Available from Battic Door, a company known for their energy conservation products, a fireplace draftstopper is an inflatable pillow that seals the damper, eliminating any air leaks. The pillow is removed whenever the fireplace is used, then reinserted after.

    Clothes Dryer Exhaust Ducts

    An easy, low-cost solution to this problem is to add a dryer vent seal. This will reduce unwanted air infiltration, and keep out pests, bees and rodents as well. The vent will remain closed unless the dryer is in use. When the dryer is in use, a floating shuttle rises to allow warm air, lint and moisture to escape.

    If your home has a folding attic stair, a whole house fan, an AC return, a fireplace, and/or a clothes dryer, you can easily, quickly and inexpensively seal and insulate these holes.

    Mark D. Tyrol is a Professional Engineer specializing in cause and origin of construction defects. He developed several residential energy conservation products including an attic stair cover, an attic access door, and is the U.S. distributor of the fireplace draftstopper. To learn more visit