Energy Efficiency Savings Tips for the New Year: Part 3 of 4 – Weather Stripping, Furnace Filters, and Power Strips

By Vernon Trollinger, January 23, 2013, Energy Efficiency, News, Save Money

As we step into the new year, one of the biggest resolutions people set with any fresh calendar is to save money in as many ways as possible. At Bounce Energy, we want to help you meet these goals with our new 4-part series that details a dozen different ways that you can save money by implementing energy efficiency strategies in your home. In our second installment, we’ll discuss how to better air seal your home, clean your furnace, and reduce energy vampires.

Part 3 of 4: Weather Stripping, Furnace Filter, and Smart Power Strips

Keeping your home warm during the cold and damp winters can add to your winter Texas electric or Pennsylvania power bills. By improving the energy efficiency in your home, you can reduce those winter heating and summer cooling costs while making your house more comfortable.

Weather Stripping

One easy way to better air seal your home is to add weatherstripping to the doors and windows. Doors and windows are designed to close snugly to keep cold, moist winter air outside. Being a door is hard work, and after a few years, the manufacturer-installed weatherstripping rubs off. Before you know it, there’s nasty cold draft coming from the door. Windows can suffer a similar fate, especially if their sliding tracks ( or gasket as in the case of casement windows) fill up with debris and dirt. To determine if your doors and windows could use weatherstripping, close a piece of paper in the door or window. If you can pull it out easily, then the door or window is leaking cold air. Another test you can try is your own home depressurization test using only your bathroom and stove venting fans.

Once you’ve determined which doors and windows need help, you’ll need to decide which kind of weatherstripping is right for the job. Of course, it all depends on the door or window and how it’s made. Energy.gov has an excellent guide on weatherstripping. For doors, I recommend putting most of the weatherstripping on the stop molding on the door frame. This is because the frame doesn’t move and will less likely get torn or caught on people’s shoes, so it ought to last longer.

Furnace Filters

The cleaner your furnace filter, the more energy efficient your HVAC will be in circulating the air. A clogged filter only makes your furnace and HVAC system work harder, which wastes energy. A furnace filter should be typically replaced every three months. However, this depends on whether you smoke, own pets that shed, live in a dusty area, the presence of allergens in your locale, and the type and quality of your furnace filter. One obvious way to keep your furnace filters longer is regularly vacuum your home, especially the cold return vents and the areas in front of them. This way, pet hair and dander as well as dust in general won’t get sucked into the air ventilation system. All the same, be sure to change your furnace filter regularly, and if possible vacuum the housing where the filter is inserted into the HVAC system.

Smart Power Strips

Another key way you can save on your winter Texas electric or Pennsylvania power bills is to kill your home’s energy vampires. Seriously. An energy vampire is an appliance or electronic gadget that keeps sucking power out of the wall even though it’s “asleep” or “off.” Many appliances like microwaves, TV’s, home theatre systems, and computer peripherals, as well as the chargers for your cell phone and music player don’t actually switch off unless you pull them from the wall. Older power bricks are notorious vampires because they continue using electricity even though nothing is connected to them.

Most electronics operate on a readiness feature called “stand by power”. Take your TV, for example. You may have turned it off, but it still consumes a trickle of electricity to power its clock and the receptor for the remote control. When you start adding up all the things you have that rely on clocks, remote controls, and battery chargers, you will quickly realize the slow but steady drain on your electricity bill. An estimate by Lawrence Berkley National Lab suggests that between “5-10% of residential electricity” is used just for stand by power. That’s about $100 per average US household per year.

To turn them off, you just need to pull the plug; granted, no one really wants to plug and unplug every single piece of electronics every single day. Thus, you should buy a smart power strip – this update to the traditional power strip turns off the electricity to a gadget (or a whole group of them) once the wattage used falls to the stand by mode level. Other models allow you to control which outlets are turned off completely, while others are allowed to keep providing power (often through an application on your computer, tablet, and/or smartphone). With this tip, you can improve the energy efficiency of your home simply because you’re wasting less electricity.

Stay tuned for Part 4: Programmable Thermostats, Insulating your Attic, and How Much Energy Efficiency Saves You.

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About 

A native of Wyomissing Hills, PA, Vernon Trollinger studied Theatre Arts/Communications and English at the University of Iowa, later earning his Master of Arts in English at Iowa as well. After a brief career in archaeology, he now writes about green energy technology, home energy efficiency, the natural gas industry, and the electrical grid.

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