Action Line: Insulation key to saving on heating, cooling
BY PHIL MULKINS World Action Line Editor
Thursday, January 24, 2013
1/24/13 at 4:20 AM
Dear Action Line: Now that our first cold-weather heating bill has arrived, what are some ways to cut heating energy use? - S.K., Tulsa.
Heating and cooling soak up 56 percent of the energy we use, says the Department of Energy, offering these money-saving tips.
Insulation: Insulation slows heat transfer out of the home in winter and into the home in summer. Bringing your attic insulation up to snuff is the most cost-effective way to winter-proof. The Department of Energy says the recommended R-value for attic insulation in northeastern Oklahoma is R-38 (15 to 16 inches of blown-in fiberglass insulation). The most economical way to achieve this in an 1,800-square-foot attic is with 15 inches of blown-in fiberglass insulation (about $1,000 worth).
Eric Raines, manager of American Electric Power-Public Service Company of Oklahoma's energy efficiency and consumer programs, said this can save the typical homeowner $150 to $185 per year.
Ductwork: Hire an air conditioning contractor to inspect your ducts for proper seal and insulation. It is not unusual to discover your cut-rate HVACR firm used "duct tape" instead of the required "mastic foil duct sealer" to really make your ducts airtight. DOE says leaky ducts allow 10 percent to 30 percent of heated or cooled air to escape into the attic and under-insulated ducts can rob conditioned air temperature by 20 percent. In northeastern Oklahoma, DOE recommends a minimum R-4 insulation around attic ducts. Due to susceptibility of fiberglass batts to moisture condensation problems, check out Prodex Total or foil-backed duct-wrap insulation as alternatives. An air-sealed R-8 insulated attic duct system saves 20 percent to 30 percent, says DOE.
Thermostat magic: Save 10 percent on your winter heating bills by adjusting your thermostat 10 to 15 degrees cooler for the eight hours you're at work, said Raines. Cut it back an additional 8 hours when you sleep and save 20 percent. Programmable thermostats do the setback chore for $40 to $70 and save 10 to 20 percent.
Dial back water heater: DOE estimates water heaters use 14 percent to 25 percent of our monthly energy bills. Little wonder, as most water heaters keep the water at a factory-set 140 degrees day and night. Setting it back to 120 degrees still provides hot showers but saves 3 to 5 percent on heating bills for every 10 degrees of set-back. To save even more, reduce hot water use with low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators, jacket the heater and insul-wrap hot water pipes to minimize stand-by heat loss. Install a timer to use cheaper off-peak power. Invest in an on-demand, tankless water heater for $500 to $1,000 to save 6 percent to 10 percent on water heating (per 20-degree setback) for timer or 24 percent to 34 percent for going tankless.
More ideas: See Sept. 3, 2010, Action Line at tulsaworld.com/Action090310 for more tips on the heating and cooling issue.
Original Print Headline: Insulation key to saving on heating, cooling
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