WASHINGTON, Jan. 8 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As a fast-moving winter storm produces bitter, gusting Arctic air and snow in portions of the Midwest, South, and East this week , consumers could get an unwelcome surprise when they open their winter home energy bills.
Heating accounts for 31 percent of the typical home's energy costs, notes the Alliance to Save Energy which suggests a number of helpful winter energy efficiency tips to bring heating and related energy costs and use down while maintaining home comfort.
Two smart tips can reduce your heating costs by up to 20 percent:
- Plug those air leaks. Your heating dollars could be going out your windows, doors, and electrical outlets. Stop all those air leaks with sealant or caulking and weather stripping.
- Install appropriate insulation for your climate based on R-values. Start with attic insulation, followed by exterior and basement walls, floors, and crawl spaces. Insulate and seal attic air ducts.
The Alliance urges consumers to act now on these energy-saving measures since Uncle Sam is offering a 30 percent tax credit--a dollar-for-dollar reduction in your income taxes owed--of up to $1,500 in 2010 for specific energy efficiency home improvements, including insulation and sealing products. Details on qualifying products, which also include highly efficient furnaces, heat pumps, and windows, are available at www.ase.org/taxcredits.
In addition to plugging air leaks, the Alliance also offers other no-cost/low-cost tips:
- Open curtains and other window treatments on your west- and south-facing windows during the day to allow sunlight to naturally heat your home, and close them at night.
- Let a programmable thermostat "remember for you" to lower the heat while your home is empty and/or overnight to reduce heating costs by up to 10 percent - and allow you to come home and wake up to a toasty, comfortable house.
- Keep furnace filters clean. Check and change your filter every month during heavy use winter months to assist air flow so your system doesn't have to work harder to keep you warm.
- Seal your heating and cooling ducts. In a typical house with a forced air system, about 20 percent of the air that moves through the duct system is lost due to leaks, holes, and poorly connected ducts. Sealing and insulating ducts increases efficiency, lowers home energy bills, and can often pay for itself in energy savings. Insulate ducts in unheated areas such as attics, crawlspaces, and garages with duct insulation that carries an R-value of 6 or higher. Also, a well-designed and sealed duct system may make it possible to downsize to a smaller, less costly heating and cooling system that will provide better dehumidification.
- Properly maintain your HVAC system. Just as a tune-up for your car can improve your gas mileage, a semi-annual or yearly tune-up of your heating and cooling system can improve efficiency and comfort. The federal government's ENERGY STAR website can help you find a qualified individual (www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=heat_cool.pr_contractors_10tips).
Other home energy efficiency improvement tips that are eligible for tax credits:
- Have to replace your HVAC equipment? Consider installing ENERGY STAR-qualified heating and cooling equipment. Installed correctly, these high-efficiency units can save up to 20 percent on heating and cooling costs. And, certain highly efficient models qualify for the current federal income tax credit.
- Go "window shopping" at www.efficientwindows.org to discover how high-performance windows can cut heating costs by as much as 30 percent compared to single-pane windows, while increasing indoor comfort and lessening fading of home furnishings.
Watch for rebates this year on energy-efficient products:
- Replacing or purchasing energy-using and energy-related products? Save up to 30 percent in related energy bills with products earning the ENERGY STAR label, the symbol of energy efficiency, on some 50 product categories, including appliances, electronics, windows, lighting, and home office equipment. Rebates may be offered by your state, municipality, energy company, manufacturers, and retailers in your area.
The Alliance offers consumers more money-saving energy tips on its website -- www.ase.org/consumers.
The Alliance to Save Energy is a coalition of prominent business, government, environmental, and consumer leaders who promote the efficient and clean use of energy worldwide to benefit consumers, the environment, the economy, and national security.
SOURCE Alliance to Save Energy