Each new year as I prepare to write the January column, I think of just how privileged I am to have the opportunity to work with the electric co-ops to help folks have a more comfortable house and lower utility bills. And since I have been writing this column every month for several years, I always wonder just how many families we have helped as a result of the information presented in the columns. I also wonder how I can write the columns to help even more folks. And then I wonder what I am going to write about for the January column.
Well, every new year I decide to start at the very beginning. I simply start with the simplest and most affordable energy improvement, which is reducing the amount of air infiltration. As I have said many times, “The three most important factors relating to energy efficiency are 1. Air infiltration 2. Air infiltration and 3. Air infiltration.”
Simply stated, you want to keep the warm air in the house in the winter and keep the hot air out of the house in the summer. Fortunately, much of this can be accomplished with caulking, weather-stripping and foam electrical gaskets, all of which can be purchased at your local home center. Add a little elbow grease, and you can start saving money on your utility bills. So let’s get started.
First, call your local electric co-op and ask who in your area can perform an energy audit at your house using a blower door and/or an infrared camera to show you the places that need to be caulked and weather-stripped.
If an audit is not available, just choose a cold windy day, dampen your hand, and feel around doors, windows, wood trim, baseboards, plumbing wall penetrations, electrical switch and outlet plates, and any other place where outside air might get in the house. Use clear-drying acrylic latex plus silicone caulk and seal the areas you find.
Typically, it only takes a few hours to make these improvements, but they will likely last for a long time and save you money for many years. Based on years of experience, I can tell you for a fact that these improvements are a great investment. I have never had a person tell me that they regretted making energy improvements on their house. And you won’t regret it either.
Happy New Year and call me at 501- 653-7931 if you have questions.