Living in the Atlanta area method experiencing the beauty of character’s four seasons, and sometimes to the extreme. When it rains in Georgia, it tends to pour. In the winter, temperatures can be downright bone-chilling. The coldest day of 2012 was February 12, with a low temperature of 19°F; on average the low temperature is 36°F, according weatherspark.com. The coldest month of 2012 in Atlanta was January with an average daily low temperature of 37°F.
An excessively cold winter combined with the rise in utility costs is a concern for many Atlanta homeowners trying to stay within their budget. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s Short Term Energy Outlook released on August 6, 2013, the projections for U.S. residential heating fuel prices1 for the winter of 2013-2014 (October 2013 to March 2014) are:
· Natural Gas: $11.33 per 1,000 cubic feet, about $1.11 per therm2
· Heating Oil: $3.63 per gallon
· Electricity: 12.00 cents per kilowatt-hour
You don’t have to sacrifice your budget to keep away the winter chill. The tips below can cut your heating bill by 20 percent or more. Each project will take about 30 minutes to complete. The materials are inexpensive and easy to install. You’ll see a quick return on your investment of money and time.
- Install a programmable thermostat. A programmable thermostat will save you money because you can set the thermostat to keep the temperature lower when residents are asleep or no one is home, and set the temperature higher at desired times, such as when you wake up in the morning. You can save 10 percent off your annual heating expense by lowering the thermostat temperature 10 to 15 degrees for eight hours a day. The idea that the furnace works harder to warm up the house after the temperature is set low is a wives tale-you do save money.
- Weather-stripping. Door and windows can have torn and worn weather-stripping that creates drafts. Seven to 12 percent of a home’s heat loss occurs around windows and doors. Homeowners often will turn up their furnace to fight the chill of a draft. The furnace works harder due to the warm air loss. If you have kids, weather-stripping around the popular home entrance and exit door may need to be replaced every few years because of use. If you can see daylight under your exterior doors, then you’re losing the indoor heated air, and money. You can replace weather-stripping by pulling off the old and tacking on the new. Some thresholds have several screws to adjust the height to eliminate a gap. Turn the screws counterclockwise to lift the threshold until daylight is gone. Light peeking by the corners is fine. The door should not drag on the threshold because it’ll use the weather-stripping. The threshold should not be so high that it interferes with opening and closing the door.
- Seal electrical boxes. Insulation is often not placed around or behind electrical boxes correctly in exterior walls, making them drafty. To stop the leaks, remove the cover plates and fill small gaps around the boxes with acrylic latex caulk. For large gaps, use foam sealant. Place a foam gasket over the outlet and replace the cover plate. A gaskets kit costs about $1.93 at Home Depot.
- Seal gaps in pipes, gas lines, and electrical cables. Gas lines, cables and pipes often have gaps around them that have been filled with caulk. Caulk ultimately peels, fractures, and falls off. Cold outside air can pass by slowly by the gaps. Seal the gaps with expanding foam. For water pipes under the sink, unscrew and pull back the escutcheon ring, then caulk around the pipe.
- Use a space heater. Put a space heater in the most popular gathering place in your home and turn down the thermostat temperature. The rest of the house will be cooler, true, but you can save 3 percent on your heating costs for every degree below 70 F. The cost of buying the heater and using electricity to function it will nevertheless save you more money in the long run.
- Clean filters. Keep heating system filters clean. Clogged filters cause the furnace to work harder.
- Cover windows with spread film. Windows explain 25 percent of heat loss in homes. Covering the windows, French doors, and sliding patio doors with clear plastic film can reduce the loss. Wal-Mart sells the spread film window kits starting at $10.97. You can also buy less expensive film that applies with tape at home centers. It is easy to apply, won’t harm your trim or paint, and is easy to remove.
- Use an inflatable chimney balloon for the fireplace. When a fireplace is not in use, already with the damper closed, heated indoor air escapes by the chimney. You can block the airflow with an inflatable chimney balloon, which is also known as a “fireplace plug” or “inflatable draft stopper.” The chimney balloons come in various sizes and cost $42.99 and up. They are obtainable on Amazon.com and other retailers. You inflate the balloon and place it in the chimney. It’s easy to install and remove.
- Seal attic access doors. already in well-insulated attics, the access door may not be properly insulated, allowing warm air to escape. A door that is warped or otherwise won’t lie flat allows outside air to leak into the attic. Use adhesive to attach fiberglass batt insulation to the attic side of the door and a latch bolt system to close the door tight.
- Furnace maintenance. Self maintenance is a good thing, but Georgia strength recommends having an Atlanta heating contractor service your furnace yearly to keep your unit operating perfectly and efficiently. If your furnace is older, you may want to consider modifying or replacing your furnace with a high-efficiency form.
By combining proper equipment maintenance and upgrades with recommended insulation, air sealing, and thermostat settings, you can cut your energy use for heating and cooling-and reduce environmental emissions-from 20%-50%, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.