(2 of 10)Tip #2: Stop Blowing It All Away
Next »Potential Yearly Savings: $42 to $390
Seal Your Space
Lots of little air leaks can add up to the equivalent of a gust rushing through your home. So don't literally blow your dollars right out the door, window, garage, roof... You get it. According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), space heating and cooling account for a whopping 56% of the total energy used in the average U.S. home, with an average annual cost of more than $1,800 per household. Depending on the age, size, construction and regional location of your home, you can potentially save 5% to 30% on the energy used for heating and cooling just by reducing drafts and air leaks throughout your home.
Common Spots for Air Leaks
Insufficient weather stripping, door and window frames, electrical outlets, switch plates, fireplace dampers, attic doors, dryer vents and wall- or window-mounted air conditioners often top the list for the most common culprits for air leaks. Also, don't forget obvious, seemingly harmless sources, like mail slots and pet doors lacking proper seals.
Tips for Finding Drafts
Wet Hand Test: One of the oldest tests to check for drafts is to wet your hand, wave it along the edges of the windows and doors, and to feel for your skin getting colder (a draft of air will accelerate the water evaporation on your skin and cause a sudden cold feeling).
Paper Test: Another simple but more exact method is to shut a window or a door on a piece of paper. If you can pull the paper out without tearing it, you definitely have an air leak. For doors, test the top, sides and bottom.
Infrared Scan: If you want to go high-tech, you can find professional services that use infrared devices that can visually scan the variation of temperatures in your home, clearly tipping you off to air leaks and damp spots. However, infrared energy scans can cost more than a hundred dollars.
Whether the Weather Saves You More
Of course, weather plays a key part in overall heating and cooling costs. So potential yearly savings* for the average household vary quite a bit by region: $65-$390 in the Northeast; $50-$300 in the Midwest; $49-$295 in the South; $42-$250 in the West.
* Dollar savings are based on an energy reduction of 5%-30% and the 2005 Residential Energy Consumption Survey (RECS) by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, released September 2008, revised January 2009.