The biggest challenge is the inflated household bills that seem to chew into our pockets throughout the season.
Plug the Power Drain
As much as 75 percent of electricity use by electronics occurs while the devices are off. Big-screen TVs, stereo systems and computer peripherals are some of the worst offenders. Curtail the loss with power strips that kill power when they sense inactivity.
Plug Big Gaps
Practice triage by stopping the big energy bleeders–large, obvious breaches in the basement and attic–before caulking cracks or insulating. Prime offenders are gaps at plumbing stacks, furnace flues and stud cavities inside soffits. Plug holes with expanding foam, foil-backed foam board or fiberglass insulation scraps stuffed in a plastic garbage bag to stop air movement. Use heat-resistant caulk and sheet -metal around chimney flues and combustion vents.
Insulate the first 10 ft. of the hot- and cold-water pipes (heated water can back-flow up the cold pipe) that lead into and out of the hot-water heater and you get double savings. Water arrives 2 to 4 degrees hotter, allowing you to lower the setting on the water heater, and there’s less wait time and water waste. Insulate the full run of exposed hot-water pipes to increase the savings.
A slow leak of 10 drips per minute from a hot-water faucet wastes 526 gal. a year, or about the equivalent of emptying and refilling a 40-gal. water heater 13 times. Swapping in a new washer or O-ring is an easy fix.
Dry air retains less heat and feels cooler against the skin. Increase ambient humidity with a
humidifier this winter, and edge the thermostat down a degree or two.