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Inspecting Your Home Can Save Money, Energy

October 21, 2000|ASSOCIATED PRESS

An energy audit of your home is one of the best ways to ensure that you're getting the most out of your heating dollars. Local utility companies can assist in tracking down energy wasters, but you can check many items yourself.

Here are some important checkpoints and energy-saving tips.

One way to check for wall insulation from the indoor living area is to remove a switch plate on an exterior wall. Shine a flashlight around the switch box to see if there is insulation present. Better yet, make a small hole in an exterior wall (in a closet or other hidden location) and measure the insulation. Then patch the hole.

Adding insulation to the walls of an existing home is costly and difficult to do thoroughly. A contractor uses special equipment to blow in insulation from holes bored in the walls. However, installing rigid board insulation before applying siding is cost-effective.

Insulation on the foundation of the house, whether you have a basement, crawl space or slab foundation, is often overlooked. Insulation applied on the house exterior to cover the exposed foundation and to extend 1 foot below ground level is effective.

The energy efficiency of your home depends to a large extent on efficiently operating heating and cooling systems. In winter you should keep the thermostat constant at 68 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 60 at night. However, the elderly, infants and sick people often require higher temperatures.

A clock thermostat aids in your comfort and convenience. Check registers to ensure they are free of dust and not obstructed.

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If you have gas-fired heating equipment have the unit cleaned every two to three years by a service technician. From time to time you should check the burner plates to see if the unit is firing properly, because gas ports can become clogged with rust or dust. If you have a furnace, clean or replace air filters once a month during heating season.

Have your water heater--the second largest energy consumer in the home--drained periodically to remove built-up sediment. Insulate the hot water pipes and the water tank. On gas and oil water heaters, be sure to keep insulation away from the pilot light and controls. Repair faucet leaks as soon as they occur.

Finally, consider installing flow restricters in shower heads and faucets.

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