With winter just around the corner, now is the time to give your home
a "check-up". Here are eight tips from Comfort Institute on what to
look for and take care of to make sure your home is ready for those
cold north winds.
Many think that windows and doors are the major cause of a home's air
leaks. But according to recent research by the Department of Energy
(DOE), gaps, cracks and disconnections in the typical home's duct
system are much more significant. The DOE states that the typical duct
system loses 25% to 40% of the energy put out by the central furnace,
heat pump or air conditioner. Leaks are usually the biggest problem.
Click here for some key information on ducts from the
Department of Energy.
your home or any part of it are over a crawlspace, make sure the vents
are closed for the winter. They should only be open for spring and
fall. Recent research finds that in most climates, leaving them open
in the summer actually brings in more unwanted moisture! Many building
scientists are now recommending drying out crawlspaces, covering the
exposed soil with a sealed plastic vapor barrier, and sealing and
insulating the crawlspace walls permanently. Stayed tuned for more
information on this topic.
The blower door is a computerized instrument originally invented by
the Department of Energy. It pinpoints where your home's worst air
leaks are, and also measures a home's overall leakiness. While most
homes are still far too leaky, some are too airtight, and need
mechanical ventilation to ensure the air inside is fresh. For more
information, click here to visit the CI
Whole House Comfort Checkup
Most systems need this done every month to ensure safe and efficient
operation. (Some systems, such as electronic air cleaners, need to be
thoroughly washed.) Consider upgrading your system's air filter. The
standard filter is there to help protect the equipment, not to clean
the air in your home. Ask your heating contractor for information on
new high efficiency air filters that can capture over 90% of the
breathable particles of concern.
A pre-season tune up is a good investment. It reduces the chances of
breakdowns in the middle of winter, and more than pays for itself
through more energy efficient operation. Click here to view the CI
How To Identify a Good Heating
and Cooling Contractor.
While it is geared more towards finding a good contractor to replace
old equipment, many of the tips are valuable for identifying a good
When performing a furnace tune up, a good contractor will also offer
to test your system for hazardous carbon monoxide (CO). CO can be
produced by a dirty or malfunctioning gas or oil furnace or water
heater. Every home should have at least one CO alarm. They are
available from most heating contractors, as well as many retail
outlets. Click here to read the CI Special Report "What
You Need to Know About Carbon Monoxide".
Why heat your house when no-one's at home or everyone's under the
blankets? Even just a five degree setback each night can save up to
10% on your heating bill. Save even more by setting back during the
day when no-one's home. Even though the system will run a while to
warm the house up, you still save money. If it's too much bother, ask
your contractor to install a new programmable automatic thermostat.
The new ones are reliable and very easy to use.
Just like a car, heating equipment doesn't last forever. If your
system is over 12 years old and you are planning to stay in your home
more than a few years, many authorities recommend considering
replacing it before it fails permanently. A new system is safer, more
dependable, and can pay for itself by being up to twice as energy
However, recent research has found that many newly installed systems
have energy wasting mistakes. View the CI Special Report
Tips and Secrets To Buying A
New Heating and Cooling System.