Natural gas prices are going higher and I would like to hear some tips
on making my house more energy efficient.
Some general details:
Northern IL (west of chicago)
3400 sq ft 5br house
5000 sq ft with basement
23 year old house
natural gas furnace.
I have already done some obvious things, like made sure that all
windows have been closed (incl the "double window" glass slides, not
sure what they are called) and draft free, and that the doors are
I have a vent over my fireplace and I closed off that one.
I would very much like to know if there is something else that I can
do, maybe some ideas etc.
There is such service you can order. They'll pressureize your house and
find every tiny air leaks. Also infrared picture will be taken.
Then you'll know exactly where your resources should be directed to
conserve energy. Most heat loss is thru the ceiling. How much insulation
do you have in the attic?
Your local utility(gas, electric) company will know best regarding this.
What they do is, they replace your front main entrance door with
specially made door(has mounted fan) for testing. It blows air into your
gently pressurizing it. Then they have electronic, infrared detectors
which will sniff out all the air leakagy. I live in Calgary Alberta.
Our area needs minimum R40 insulation in the attic, R20 in the wall, R12
on the basement wall. My house is R2000
spec. Too air tight. Needs periodic air exchange for fresh outside air.
To your "obvious" list add such things as sealing outlet and switch boxes on
outside walls, using insulating blinds and curtains, etc.
You might also consider "lifestyle" changes to include cutting back on the
rooms you heat "all the time." Lots of folks with big houses often use the
basement family room a lot and don't use the "living room" much at all.
Get some furniture covers and start using the living room and cut back on
heating the basement.
You can consider turning off the heat in rooms that are vacant temporarily
(e.g.: bedrooms) when they aren't being used. If you have a hot air
system, you might find it useful to replace registers with easier operating
If you have gas you might consider using some VENTLESS gas heaters in the
family room while it is in use and reduce the amount of furnace heat.
Insulating pipes is usually cheap.
You might want to do an informal survey of your house for "weak" spots in
Finally,you might want to change our your heating plant for a more efficient
model and consider changing fuels (or even putting in a heat pump.) Local
Thanks, good point. There is a couple of spots in the basement that
also may benefit from insulating.
What are those curtains? Never heard about them.
forget it, basement is where I like to spend time:)
I do however see how your advice may be used for other rooms,
especially the 3rd floor room (we have one room there).
We have fireplace in the family room and perhaps I can install some
high efficiency fireplace. All in all, it is hard to really cut back
on heat as there is a 2.5 year old in the house.
How would I do it?
My heater is already a pretty decent model. I am wondering, generall,
if you broke heat loss by kind, what would be the top cause of heat
Unsealed hard to find things (like outlets).
I understand that itis all house specific. Can I hire someone to
analyze it for my house not too expensively? If so, what kind of
business should I look for in yellow pages?
My heating repair co did a blower door test for 250. A good idea. Your
furnace is probably 82% efficent you can go to 95%.
Insulate hot water pipes.
Heat water only to temp needed to shower without adding cold water.
Plastic window film.
A blower door test shows how many air exchanges your house has a day and
where it leaks, they go around with a smoke stick showing you the leaks.
You dont want to few exchanges , [ a tight house ] or to many. They will
tell you what is optimal and safe. An infrared camera will thermaly show
underinsulated areas. These cameras are expensive and cant be rented. I
tried in Chgo to rent one. You need a Co that specialises in this work.
It may cost 4 to 500 But then you know where you stand .
Call your local electric and/or gas utilities. Many of them have
conservation departments that offer free energy saving consultations.
My electric company came by with a heat camera and photographed the
house. This showed where the largest heat leaks were.
Good you took the advice on improving your attic insulation. Is the
3rd-floor room in the attic space? Make sure the walls and knees are
insulated properly too.
Don't just weatherstrip doors and windows; go outside and inspect the
caulking on the frames. Inspect the foundation caulking too.
Insulate any ductwork that passes through unheated spaces. Seal your
ductwork with aluminized tape to minimize leaks (pressurized air will
find the easiest way out, including outside if it can).
Make sure you can easily close off rooms, for the winter or at least the
Save energy by making the best use of passive solar heating -- open
blinds at daytime, close them again as it darkens and the blinds provide
an extra "dead space" of insulation.
Use heavy insulating curtains in rooms you don't use as much.
Use a programmable thermostat to offset the temperature, and keep warm
in bed with electric blankets.
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