Fall Home 2011

Prepare your home for winter

By September 14, 2011

Extreme temperatures are not only uncomfortable, they’re hard on the wallet as homes work overtime to keep the heat in and the elements out.

In today’s challenging economic climate, homeowners are looking for ways to cut home operating costs and keep more money in the bank. With almost half of home-energy costs going to heating, homeowners are eager for simple and inexpensive ways to lower their energy costs. As the temperatures drop this winter, there are several steps consumers can take to protect their homes from the cold, improve home efficiency and save money.

Maximize your heater’s efficiency
Air filters should be replaced every one to three months to prolong furnace life, keep energy consumption low, maintain air quality and ensure proper climate control. 3M Filtrete Micro Alergen Filters are 20 times more efficient than fiberglass filters, helping homeowners to save up to $100 each year on heating and cooling costs.

Programmable thermostats like the Filtrete 7-Day Touch Screen Programmable Thermostat make it is easy to save money and energy by keeping homes warm while people are at home, and giving the heater a break when no one is at home. A programmable thermostat can be installed in less than 30 minutes and can help to reduce the energy bill by $180 a year when used properly.

Seal and insulate your home
According to the Harvard University School of Public Health, even if your home is as little as five to 10 years old, it is likely that you have one of the 46 million under-insulated homes in the United States. The EPA recommends using Energy Star insulation such as Owens Corning EcoTouch Continuous Roll Insulation in the attic and other key areas of the home. This product works overtime to improve the quality of the indoor air you breathe, and is made from 50 percent recycled content and 99.4 percent natural ingredients, proving that although it is pink, it is still very green.

To determine whether your attic could use additional insulation to improve your home’s efficiency, look at your attic floor. If the insulation does not rise above the attic floor joists, it is time to add insulation.

According to the EarthWorks Group, the average American home has leaks that amount to a nine-square-foot hole in the wall. Sealing gaps and cracks around your windows, doors, ceilings and floors is an inexpensive way to keep cold drafts out and reduce heat loss. To fill large gaps, use a product such as Great Stuff Insulating Foam, and for smaller cracks, use a caulk or sealant such as GE Silicone II Window & Door Sealant.

Keep the elements out with energy efficient doors and windows
Replacing old doors and windows with energy-efficient versions can cut heating and cooling costs significantly throughout the life of the home. Energy Star windows such as the Andersen 400 Series Double Hung Window are tax credit eligible and can help homeowners save up to $500 each year on energy bills. Doors, such as the JELD-WEN Premium 36 in. x 8- in. White Pre-Hung Left-Hand Inswing 6-Panel Entry Galvanized Steel Door with Brickmold, are also tax credit eligible and provide five times the insulating value of wood doors.

To make existing windows and doors more energy efficient, seal them with EPDM Rubber Foam Weather Stripping or Therwell Products 36 in. Light Brown Double Draft Stop for Door or Windows. Certain window treatments and coverings can also help to reduce heat loss in the winter and heat gain in the summer.

Insulate and update your water heater
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, water heating can account for 14 to 25 percent of the energy consumed in your home. Wrapping your water heater in an insulating jacket such as the Frost King Water Heater Blanket takes less than 15 minutes and can help you reduce your energy bill by $30 a year. To know if your water heater needs insulating, simply touch it. If it is warm, you could be losing up to 3 degrees Fahrenheit of heat every hour.

Switch to an Energy Star Qualified Electric Hybrid Water Heater for even more savings. Products such as the Rheem EcoSense Electric Water Heater with Heat Pump Technology are more than two times as efficient as standard water heaters and can help reduce electric bills by as much as $286 each year.

Learn more about Home Depot’s home improvement recommendations at

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