Monday, December 24, 2012

Reducing Energy Costs In Winter

Temperatures in the Tennessee Valley tend to stay balmy until December, but that's when winter really sets in here. If you didn't weatherproof before now, have only just noticed a new draft, or just got a surprising energy bill, you might be wondering how you can save on energy this time of year. Fortunately there are several easy, low-cost routes you can take to keep the heat in and money in your pocket.

First, get a free TVA-sponsored In Home Energy Evaluation. It's simple. TVA and your local utility have teamed up to send a certified evaluator to your home. The evaluator will conduct an energy audit to determine where your home is losing energy. If you have at least $150 of the recommended repairs made by a qualified contractor, TVA will reimburse you for 50 percent of the installation cost, with an upper limit of $500, and convenient financing.

An energy audit will point to exactly where your home's energy is escaping. While some of the repairs may need to be made by a contractor-- such as putting in new insulation, new siding, or more efficient storm windows-- others can be done at home with just a few supplies.

It's not always the most attractive solutions, but if you are on a tight budget or want to insulate a seldom used space, you might consider insulating your windows with plastic sheeting. All you need is rolls of the plastic sheeting from your local hardware store, a staple gun, and a little time. Should you want a less obtrusive solution, Apartment Therapy has a great post covering plastic sheeting as well as several other window insulation methods.

One thing you can do for free to impact your energy bill is to open south-facing window shades or curtains during the day to let in the warm sunlight. At night, close the blinds or drapes to help keep that heat in. You can also set the thermostat lower while you are away from home or at night  to tailor your heat usage to your actual needs. A programable thermostat costs money, but can make this even easier.

Energy.gov has even more simple tips you can check, some of which would be covered by a home energy audit, such as finding air leaks, insulating pipes, and maintaining your HVAC system properly.