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Save $ with energy efficiency

Thursday, July 7, 2011

With summer in full bloom and temperatures steadily rising, now is the time for Iowa residents to make energy-efficient home improvements that can save them money on their energy bills, making their homes more comfortable year-round.

Homeowners may be unaware that their windows, doors and attics can all be sources of energy loss.

Information is available on how to reduce energy use. From low or no cost ideas, such as changing a furnace filter or closing a vent in an unoccupied room, to more comprehensive solutions.

Residents can check insulation levels, heating and cooling equipment and operating conditions, air infiltration levels, and even behavioral factors that influence how much energy is really being used, For example, residents often don't realize they're leaving their thermostats set at an expensive and unnecessary level each day when they leave for work and school.

Some common home-improvement tips that may result in significant energy savings include:

*Summer

Use ceiling fans to distribute cool air.

Check to make sure fireplace dampers are closed and fit tightly.

Install water flow restrictors and aerators.

Install an attic ventilating system that will draw cool air up through the house and can provide as much cool air as an air conditioner at a much lower cost.

*Winter

Adjust the humidity in the home. A well-humidified house at 68 degrees Fahrenheit is as comfortable as a dry house at 75 degrees.

Insulate attics with a minimum of 6 inches of insulation (preferable 10 inches to 12 inches). Consider adding insulation in attics and/or walls. A homeowner can increase the comfort of the home while reducing heating and cooling needs up to 30 percent by investing just a few hundred dollars in proper insulation and weatherization products.

Replace older windows with energy-efficient windows.

Install glass storm doors.

Install weather stripping along cracks located at windows and doors. For most homeowners, this is an easy, do-it yourself project. As much as 7 percent to 12 percent of a structure's heating and cooling loss occurs around windows and doors, so weather stripping is an important part of an energy-saving plan.

In tough economic times such as these and the positive global focus of "going green," energy-efficient actions can save you big money!