Keep Out the Cold this Winter

By ecoRI News staff

Between 40 percent and 70 percent of all home energy is wasted, but homeowners could save about half of that by buying efficient appliances and taking energy-saving measures, according to EarthShare.

The following are some inexpensive solutions to consider, courtesy of EarthShare:

Cover your air conditioner: If you can’t remove your window unit, consider covering it both inside and out. Besides protecting your air-conditioning unit, these covers also help keep cold air from entering your home through the space around the air-conditioner and help lower utility bills.

Caulk it: Small spaces and gaps around windows, pipes and wires entering the home create energy wasting drafts that can cut the efficiency of your heating system. Most caulking products cost less than $10; rope caulk, one of the easiest types to apply, sells for about $4 for 50 feet.

Block drafts: Draft blockers are foam plates that fit behind light switches and electrical outlets to reduce drafts that enter through those spaces. You can get a packet of 10 for about $3 and they’re easy to install.

Install heat reflectors: These are thin sheets that fit behind radiators, to reflect heat away from the wall and into the room, thereby maximizing each radiator’s energy efficiency.

Upgrade your thermostat: Changing your thermostat to a programmable one allows you to control the temperature in your home at different times of the day without you being home. Keep the heat off when you’re out of the house and set it to turn back up before you get home. Some also have a second set of settings for weekends, when people usually spend more time at home. These thermostats range from $90 to $175, but can save 12 percent or more on your energy bill.

Reflective window film: Place these thin, plastic sheets directly on the inside of windowpanes and glass doors. The film reflects inside heat back into your home, reducing the amount that is conducted outside through windows. The film costs about $10 a window and is easy to put on.

Storm-window kits: It can be expensive to have storm windows installed throughout your house, but there is a less-expensive way to weatherproof home windows. Storm-window kits consist of plastic film or sheets to cover the window. Attaching the plastic is done with tape or tacks. Prices range from about $3 to $10 per window.

Weatherstripping: Create a tight seal around all your windows to reduce heated and cooled air from escaping outside. Weatherstrips are plastic, foam, felt or rubber strips that fit around window and doorframes with a self-adhesive backing. Prices vary, but average about $5 a window or door.