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How Energy Efficient is Your Home?

ThermostatYep. It’s winter in Upstate New York, and we’ve all seen that reflected in our monthly energy bills. After all the grumbling and the letter from the energy company offering us the option to pay the larger-than-life bill in installments, how do you know where to start?

Well, wonder no longer. We’ve put together some things to consider to help you to mitigate those sky-high energy bills.

Lights and Appliances

  • Paint walls and ceilings light colors that reflect light rather than absorb, reducing the need for extra lighting
  • Keep light bulbs and shades dust-free – dust absorbs light
  • Consider replacing incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent lights (CFLs), or light emitting diodes (LEDs)
  • With incandescent lighting, use one high-wattage bulb rather than several low-wattage ones
  • Turn off unused lights, stereos, televisions, computers, etc

Heating and Cooling Systems

  • As a general rule, set the thermostat at 65°F to 70°F during the winter, and 58°F when away from home
  • Install programmable thermostats to help you make those temperature changes automatically
  • Have  your heating and cooling systems inspected annually by a certified HVAC professional. Inefficient heating and cooling systems can increase your consumption of energy.
  • Hire a specialist to inspect your chimney and flues
  • Insulate ducts and pipes that run through unheated areas
  • Warm air rises, so use registers to direct warm air flow across the floor

The Kitchen

  • Inspect the seals on your refrigerator, freezer, and oven doors to ensure that they fit tightly. Replace the seals if they don’t.
  • Replace outdated appliances with energy efficient rated appliances.
  • When necessary, preheat your oven for no more than 10 minutes
  • Check all your range burners. If your natural gas stove burns with a yellow rather than blue flame, something may be clogging it. Call a service technician to inspect and service it.

The Water Heater

  • Remove sediment from the bottom of your water heater from time to time. Follow your manufacturers instructions to drain the dirty water until it’s clear to keep your water heater efficient.
  • Insulating your water heater could reduce your energy use by 5 – 8%. Check your owners manual for specific instructions.
  • Set the temperature low (about 120°F) and use warm instead of hot water for dishes and clothes.
  • If you still have an oil-fired water heater, be sure to have a qualified professional inspect it every year.

The Attic

  • Insulate your attic! If you heat with natural gas or oil, at least 6 inches of R-19 should be sufficient while those with electric heat should have at least 12 inches of R-36 type insulation.
  • Insulate and weather strip your attic access door.
  • Be sure that your attic has proper moisture barriers and is vented properly to reduce condensation and interfere with the performance of insulation

The Basement

  • Seal all cracks in masonry walls
  • Insulate basement walls
  • Insulate the floor joists above unheated areas
  • Insulate crawl spaces under heated areas

If you want to get an idea how energy efficient you home is and get more of these tips, check out this printable quiz/checklist from RG&E: http://ow.ly/J5d0v



John Hoagland, owner and founder of Trinity Home Renovations in Rochester, NY, has 20+ years experience working with clients on various home renovation, remodeling roofing and siding projects. His Webster, NY based company has seen tremendous growth in recent years. He's well respected by his colleagues and customers alike for his down-to-earth, friendly approach as well as his never ending dedication to customer service and satisfaction.
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