Saturday, October 17, 2009

Higher Fuel Prices Make Home Energy Conservation Popular

By David Burton
University Extension

Higher fuel prices and limited family budgets make cheap home energy conservation measures appealing.
No one thing will magically cut energy expenses a lot, but attention to many little things can all help add up to greatly-reduced costs according to Bob Schultheis, natural resource engineering specialist, University of Missouri Extension.
“Remember, you’re not actually saving any money until you have recaptured the money you spent to do the energy conservation measure,” said Schultheis.
Here are Schultheis's top ten quick payback tips for colder weather.

1. Insulate older water heaters and set back the thermostat to 120 to 135 degrees Fahrenheit. Cost of the insulation will be paid back in 4 to 8 months.
2. Caulk all outside joints where dissimilar materials meet, like where wood meets masonry and where pipes go through concrete. Use acrylic latex tube caulk for joints one-quarter inch wide or less, and use oakum, expandable foam or other filler material plus tube caulk for joints wider than one-quarter inch.
3. Weatherstrip exterior door and window gaps to reduce heat loss. A one-eighth inch wide gap around a door is the same as a six-inch diameter hole through it. Install foam gaskets under electrical outlet plates on exterior walls and put plastic plugs in unused sockets to reduce cold air invasion.
4. Add attic insulation if it is now less than six inches thick. If it's over six inches thick, insulating the floor and underfloor water pipes pays back quicker. Minimum insulation levels for Missouri homes are R-49 in the ceilings, R-18 in walls, and R-25 in floors over crawlspaces.
5. Install interior storm window kits on single-pane windows.
6. Put tight-fitting doors on fireplaces to slow heat loss. Don't use an open fireplace if you're serious about heating the house. Give your furnace its annual tune-up.
7. Use south-facing windows to passively collect solar heat during daytime. Close drapes at night to retain heat in the house.
8. Keep lights clean for maximum illumination. Shut them off when not in use.
9. Wear clothing in layers. Then set back the house thermostat to 68 degrees during the day and 60 degrees at night. Do reading, television viewing, for example, near heat sources and away from cold windows and outside walls. Locate furnishings for active functions, such as eating and playing, away from direct heat sources.
10. Involve the whole family in your energy management program to assure success.

For more information on energy conservation options, contact the nearest University of Missouri Extension Center, go on-line to, or call Schultheis in Webster County at (417) 859-2044.

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