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General Energy Efficiency II
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Most people love saving money. When it comes to heating and cooling a home, unless you have prepared your home for efficiency, you will be paying far more than you should. Although the cost of heat and cooling does vary from one coast to the other and from home to home, there are ways to lower the bills. In average year, most homeowners pay around $1,300. While that may not be the largest expense of owning a home, by lowering it, you will have more money to do other things you enjoy.

The first thing you need to do is find out what areas of your home are losing energy. By following some simple steps, you can do this, make corrections, and start saving money right away. On average, by making the appropriate changes, you can save as much as 50% on your heating and cooling costs.

Start with your home�s insulation. Because warm air rises, your attic must have top quality insulation to keep the heat inside the house instead of escaping. To determine if there is enough insulation, you want to measure the inches in the room and remember, the more the better. Typically, most homes have a rating of R22 to R49, which equates to 7 to 11 inches. Wearing long sleeves and gloves take a measuring tape and see how many inches you have in your attic. Try to be careful when working around insulation, as it will irritate the skin. By paying approximately .25 per square foot for traditional insulation and .50 for Miraflex insulation, you can enjoy a yearly savings of $150 to $300!

If you find that there are simply trying to plug up outside gaps, these gaps will need to be sealed on the outside of the home. This would include all areas around the windows, doors, and even water faucets, which can be huge culprits. Using expandable latex foam or caulk, you can seal these areas off easily and inexpensively. A great product currently on the market is called Side Winder Caulk made by Dap. This material is perfect for temperatures that fall below 40 degrees. All you need to do is find the gaps, apply the caulk, and you are finished. You can purchase both Side Winder Caulk and Latex foam sealant for about five dollars and will enjoy a yearly savings as much as $150.

Now you need to look for leaks on the inside of the home. Start by looking for cracks around windows, the walls, and electrical outlets. With standard caulk and a caulking gun or simply a tube of caulk, you want to go around the areas to seal them off. You can now buy caulk in white, clear, black, brown, and some places even sell it in various colors. This helps the caulk to blend in perfectly and not stick out as sealant.

Additionally, if you have a fireplace, with the lights off on a bright, sunny day, look up inside the chimney to see if there are any cracks or if the damper is not closing properly, as this is another common area for air leakage. You will want to buy a special caulk made to withstand heat, which is sold along with other types of caulk and sealant at your local hardware or home improvement store.

When all the cracks are filled, you need to pay some important attention to the windows. Although new windows would be the perfect solution, that is not always an option for everyone. Therefore, you can buy a window insulation kit, which can be found easily and are affordable. These kits are easy to install, costing on average $3 to $5 per window. The savings you will enjoy averages $75 per year.

The next thing to look at is ways to maximize your heating system. While you enjoy the savings, you will also ensure your family is safe. You should consider having your air ducts cleaned by a professional and then make sure your filters are cleaned or replaced. These simple steps coupled with lowering the thermostat number just a tad will give you up to a 15% annual savings. In fact, you can replace your old thermostat with a digital option that will monitor your temperature automatically. Finally, consider what is referred to as �zone heating�. This means that you heat only the areas of the house that are used. For example, many people keep the vents in the garage open. While this is nice for a toasty warm garage, it also means you are heating an unlived in area of the home. By changing the temperature and using a room conditioner, you can save as much as $250 per year.
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