Drafty Windows? Whitehouse Covers Them With Plastic

While watching the news this morning I noticed in a video clip of a Face The Nation interview of President Obama that there is plastic over the windows in the White House.

That’s the best clip I can find at the moment. If I find a better one I’ll change it.  You can actually see the plastic billowing a bit during some segments.

If plastic on the windows in the oval office doesn’t make it socially acceptable to do what you have to do to control those energy bills I don’t know what will.

29 Free Ways To Save Energy and Money at Home

You Can Lower your Energy Bills Starting Right Now! This stuff really works!

  • Turn your water heater thermostat down to 120 degrees.
  • Turn off lights, TV sets, appliances, and other electricity users when not needed. Consider plugging electronics (anything with a remote) into a plug bar/surge suppressor and turning them off with the switch on the plug bar – in order to eliminate phantom loads.
  • Change your Computer’s Energy Settings to save energy.
  • Clean light bulbs globes and shades – The cleaner the bulb, the brighter the light and the less tempted you will be to change to a higher wattage or turn on a second light.)
  • Seriously reconsider your use of things like security lights, swimming pools, and hot tubs. If you have things like this that consume energy continuously for months or even years at a time, but are only used occasionally, you should consider the real long term costs involved. By the way, putting your swimming pool pump on a timer and only running it for 2-3 hours a day can very significantly lower your electric bill, without making any real compromise.
  • Take a shorter cooler shower. In the summer time when you are trying to keep your home cool and dehumidified, a cooler shower will save energy in two ways, first it saves hot water, and it releases less warm moist air into your house. Installing a trickler valve will make it more convenient to turn the water flow off or down while you lather up or shave. Turning the water off when you don’t need it could reduce the hot water used by 50% or more. Also, cooler water temperatures help to avoid over drying your skin.
  • Don’t run water continuously for activities like shaving, tooth brushing or rinsing dishes. Run the water into the sink (or a cup) and use only what you really need – especially hot water.
  • Don’t leave kitchen or bathroom ventilation fans running any longer than needed. The conditioned air that they blow out has to be replaced by unconditioned outside air – plus the fans use energy too.
  • Whenever you have the occasion to shop for new appliances consider their energy efficiency, and look for the energy star compliance logo.
  • The most wasteful appliances are the ones that you don’t really need. If you have an old refrigerator out in the garage or basement just to keep a few drinks cold, consider getting rid of it altogether, or at least replacing it with a new efficient compact (aka “dorm room”) model, or only using it when needed, and turning it off most of the time.
  • Call your Electric Company about discounts they may offer during off-peak hours, and try to cook and wash during those times whenever possible.
  • Want to find out if your energy use is above average? If you have five minutes and your energy bills are nearby, this government Web site can tell you: www.energystar.gov. Click on the “Home Energy Analysis” link. You will be asked to enter information about your home’s age, square footage, number of occupants and energy bill totals for a consecutive, 12-month period. If you don’t keep your bills, your utility company can send you a 12-month summary.

Heating and Cooling – In most homes regulating the temperature is the largest single energy expense It is also most often the main area where real savings can be made.

  • Dress appropriately for the season so that you can adjust your thermostat to save energy.
  • Adjust your thermostat higher in warm weather and lower in cool weather so your heating and cooling systems don’t have to work so hard.
  • If you don’t have a programmable thermostat, then manually change the settings at night and when leaving the house.
  • The sun is the most readily available source of heat there is – and the cheapest! So make the most of it in the heating season by opening internal doors of any rooms which get more sun than others and let the warm air travel through your home.
  • Shut the door – The biggest heating and cooling loses are from air infiltration, and leaving external doors open will sure infiltrate a lot of air. Consider putting a closer on the most often used door to your house so that it will close itself.
  • Keep draperies and shades on sunny windows open during the heating season to allow sunlight in; close them at night and during the air conditioning season to reduce heat transfer.

Kitchen and Cooking

  • Don’t use the heavy wash settings on your dishwasher or clothes washing machine unless they are really needed, instead scrape plates thoroughly and pre-soak clothes when possible. Your teenagers will be glad to hear that most modern dishwashers can handle dishes that have not been pre-rinsed. So to save hot water, don’t pre-rinse your dishes – unless it will be more than a day or so before the dishwasher is run, in which case you should probably do a bit of pre rinsing to keep it from getting really nasty in there.
  • If you have a water heater timer, run your dishwasher as soon as possible after the timer turns the water heater off. That way you will use up the residual hot water instead of leaving it to slowly cool and go to waste. Only do this if you have a reasonably modern dishwasher that will bring cool water up to the proper temperature. Watch for this feature when shopping for a new appliance.
  • In the summer, cook outside whenever possible to avoid adding heat and humidity to the house. conversely, in the winter, the heat and moisture that cooking produces is a big plus to your indoor environment during cold weather. So fire up a mess of comfort food on a cold winter afternoon.
  • Keep your refrigerator and or freezer full. A full refrigerator will cost less to operate than an empty one. Also, in the event of a power outage, frozen bottles of water that you have used to take up space and provide thermal mass will help to keep the real contents from spoiling. Anyway, in the event of an emergency you can never have too much ice or bottled water.
  • Try to think before you open the refrigerator and get as much out (or in) at one time as possible. When putting away groceries stage everything that goes into the fridge and then put them all away at one time.
  • Keeping your refrigerator or freezer neat and well organized will help to reduce the amount of time you spend looking for ingredients.
  • When using the dishwasher, avoid using the heat dry cycle. Instead open the door and allow the dishes to air dry. In the summer time, wait a few minutes before opening the door to avoid dumping all that steam into the house. In the winter the hot moist air is a good thing. If you use a product like Jet Dry and load carefully, most of the water will drain right off without any need for additional heat drying.
  • When cooking, choose the right pan size for the food and the stove eye. Cut food into smaller pieces and put lids on pans when possible as the food will then cook a lot quicker, and less energy will escape as steam. If you are defrosting food, or just warming things up, then microwave ovens are ideal as they use much less electricity than conventional ovens. Use the microwave whenever possible. For example potatoes baked in the microwave for 5 minutes are almost identical to ones that bake in the oven for an hour.
  • Regularly check the seals on your fridge/freezer to ensure no warm air is getting in – the seals should be tight enough to hold a piece of paper securely when closed.

Laundry – Efforts in the laundry room are mostly aimed at saving Hot Water. Water heating is the second largest use of energy in the home, after climate control.

  • A cheap way to save on hot water all the time is to insulate your water heater.
  • Try to have full loads when using the washing machine.
  • Use the lowest possible temperature to wash, and always use a cold rinse. The Laundry detergents available today are designed to do a good job in cold water. Another benefit is that your clothes will last longer if you wash them in a cooler temperature.
  • If you have especially dirty of stained clothes, then spot treat them with one of the many fine products available and/or presoak them.
  • When the time comes to shop for a new washing machine seriously consider an energy efficient front loader. I have seen claims of up to %40 energy savings for these machines; Plus, they use less water which results in even more savings, also they claim to do a better job in the spin cycle which means even more savings in the dryer – plus your laundry will be dry quicker.
  • Use a clothes line instead of the dryer for a 100% energy savings and fresh smelling laundry – and clothes which last longer.

How to Choose Energy Efficient Windows

A typical NFRC window label gives you the information that you need about window performance.
A typical NFRC window label gives you the information that you need about window performance.

Picture of a typical NFRC window label – Snagged from the NFRC website.

Almost everything you need to know about windows can be found on the NFRC label that comes on the window, and your window dealer should be able to furnish you with this information before you place your window order.
What you will find on the NFRC label Continue reading “How to Choose Energy Efficient Windows”

Home Improvement Projects to Save Energy and Lower Your Energy Bills

The right home improvements can save you money beginning almost immediately and increase the resale value of your home, while also making your home a more comfortable place to live. In the future many home buyers are going to be much more concerned with energy efficiency and total cost of ownership.

Tighten you HVAC Duct Work – Leaky ducts that run through unconditioned attics or crawl spaces can waste huge amounts of energy. Continue reading “Home Improvement Projects to Save Energy and Lower Your Energy Bills”

Building a Tight Thermal Envelope

Simple things like caulking around pipes will make your home more comfortable and save a lot of money and energy.
Simple things like caulking around pipes will make your home more comfortable and save a lot of money and energy.

The Airtight Drywall Approach to a Tight Thermal Envelope

The building envelope is the part of the house which separates the indoors from the outdoors, and consists of the floor on the bottom level, the ceiling on the top level, the exterior walls, the exterior floor bands, and of course the doors and windows. The standard house envelope leaks air like a sieve and accounts for something like 30 percent of climate control costs due to air infiltration alone. Fortunately during construction it is cheap and easy to make the thermal envelope much tighter and to make a considerable improvement in the energy efficiency of the finished home. According to the Federal Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy website “Such airtight homes often consume one-third less energy when compared to similar unsealed homes.”

During the Framing Process

  • Seal under the exterior walls – I recommend that you use construction adhesive to glue your exterior walls down Continue reading “Building a Tight Thermal Envelope”