Plug a Hole, Save a Bundle

“A penny saved is a penny earned.” “Waste not, want not.” And you could probably think of several other clichés about saving money. They may be old and perhaps overused, but the truth is, we all would like to spend less money if we can help it. Am I right? I know I can speak for everyone here at GAMA Air that we don’t like to waste money. The last couple of blog entries have been focused on staying comfortable while keeping costs as low as possible. Now we’re going to mention some commonly overlooked winter-time energy wasters.

The idea is to find simple things that can be remedied, like plugging a hole where cold drafts blow in, that can save you a bundle in energy costs. The US Environmental Protection Agency has identified the following seven items as being the most overlooked energy wasters (they are listed in order of priority):

  • Lack of attic insulation
  • Ductwork that is not sealed or insulated
  • Not sealing large air leaks
  • Lack of basement or crawlspace insulation
  • Not having a programmable thermostat
  • Windows and doors that are not weatherized
  • An uninsulated water heater

But here are some other things that are commonly overlooked. Such as... fireplaces. Fireplaces will warm you when you are positioned directly in front of them. However the sad fact is that wood burning fireplaces allow up to 90% of the heat to escape through the chimney. Can you believe that? They’re only about 10% efficient besides. Plus they have huge combustion requirements. Fire needs oxygen, so fireplaces consume lots of air which is being pulled out of your home, air that you’ve already paid to heat in some other way. The air that is being sucked up through the chimney then has to be replaced to fill the vacuum in your home. So you will end up paying extra to heat up the air that is coming in just to supply your fireplace with oxygen. Gas logs are pretty much the same; fire is fire whether the fuel is wood or gas. So what can you do if you need a little boost for your home’s heating system?

Consider electric heaters. They are much more energy efficient than your fireplace, only costing you a few pennies per 500 watts, for each hour that they operate. Electric heaters provide the same warm feeling of the direct heating that a fireplace provides, but without the disadvantage of the most of the heat escaping your house and being replaced by cold air. Obviously if you use an electric heater to supplement your central heating system, and don’t turn the thermostat down a few degrees, you’ll spend more money overall. However it is still way more efficient than using a fireplace.

Lastly, check your ductwork. You want to ensure that as much warm air as possible is delivered where you want it through your central heating system. So check the ductwork and seal any leaks you find with duct mastic. The average home suffers a 30% loss of air while it is being transported from your furnace (electric, or gas) through the ductwork to the vents. Yikes! That’s why it was second on the list above. Sealing ductwork will raise your system’s efficiency and let your furnace work less, but plus it will keep you warmer! Our trained technicians would be honored to help you with this step. If you know that your ductwork is not insulated, give us a call at (310) 651-6936 or use our online form to request a visit.

So give one or more of these measures a try, and you’ll find yourself more comfortable, healthier, saving a bundle and contributing to a healthier environment along the way.

Have a question that’s been nagging you? Visit our Ask an Expert page, fill out the form, and we will get back to you quickly!

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