Green Corner: Preparing for colder weather
October 1, 2015
Fall is here and there are numerous ways to get prepared for winter and be green doing so.
Let's start with one's car: Tire pressure drops with cooler temperatures and low tire pressure is less efficient on your miles per gallon. So, plan on increasing the psi in your tires by 3-5 psi, after the weather has cooled down dramatically,.
In one's house, I would start with replacing your furnace's air filter and making it a good habit to change these out once a month, at a minimum, since dust and dirt can reduce a furnace's efficiency. It is highly recommended to have your furnace or boiler inspected every year. Also, you should clean the insides of your furnace as well as the coils of your refrigerator with a vacuum hose attachment, while you are at it.
Weather-stripping is crucial to keeping a house warm or cold and should be checked every year for failure or age. I recommend changing them on your doors every 3-5 years and always if they get nicked or have holes in them.
Electrical outlets, especially on outside walls, and light fixtures are prime places for cold air to leak into your home. Add foam gaskets behind covers and switch plates, and use safety plugs in unused outlets. Be sure to shut off the power at the fuse box or circuit panel before doing this.
Window and door caulking is also crucial and should be checked early before it gets too cold. Latex caulk will not set up under 40 degrees, and 100 percent silicone is tricky to set in the cold. Windows can get covered in plastic as an extra deterrent to the cold and wind and is a must-have for single paned windows.
The next thing on the checklist is your water heater. Check it for any signs of leaks and if it is outside and has an R value less than R-16, wrap it with an insulation blanket. Wrapping your water heater can help save energy this winter by as much as 4-9 percent in water heating costs. It is not necessary to cover a water heater that is located in one's home. Then, turn down your heater. Most water heaters operate just as efficiently at 120 degrees. For every 10 degrees you lower the water temperature, one can save between 3 and 5 percent in utility costs. The lower temperature could help increase the lifespan of the heater as well.
Finally, there is the thermostat. For each degree you turn down the thermostat, the EPA estimates you'll save about 1 percent in monthly utility expenses. It is recommended to set your temp at 68 degrees or less.
Additionally; switching your ceiling fans to turn clock-wise, distributes the warm air around the room more efficiently and, surprisingly, can save up to 15 percent in heating costs a year.
These all seem simplistic and monotonous, but they all add up and are easily forgotten every year. Happy Fall!
Thomas Harris is president of the Infinite West Board of Directors.