Energy Saving Guide for Winter Quiz

By answering a few questions, you can find out if your home is winter ready. Then, follow the advice to winterize your home.
By MOTHER EARTH NEWS Editors
October/November 1991
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Okay. You’ve cleaned out the gutters, sealed off any exterior water pipes, fixed the driveway and patched the screen that your kid put a baseball through sometime in June. Feeling buckled down for winter? A thorough house tour and our quiz may reveal the crack that your home-energy money has been falling through.

1. Are your rooms cold, even though you hear your heating system running?

Solution: Your heat cannot escape into the room. Either the flow of heat is blocked by objects or your heaters need cleaning and bleeding. To learn more about solving this problem read Quick Checks for an Efficient, Winterized Heating System.

2. Is your log cabin insulated?

Solution: Much to the surprise of many log-home owners, you do need to insulate. To learn more about this topic read Log Home Insulation Saves Energy.

3. Are you confident that your pipes won’t freeze?

Solution: If not, add “heat tape” and insulation. Read Insulating Pipes and Heating Ducts to learn more.

4. Do you find the winter wind creeping under your door, despite the fact that you weatherstripped last year?

Solution: If yes, you should check to see that your weatherstripping is in good enough condition to form a firm seal between the moveable parts and the frame. If not, redo it. See Different Types of Weatherstripping and How to Weatherstrip Your Home for more information.

5. Do you have uninsulated hot-air ducts or steam or hot water pipes in unheated spaces?

Solution: Look in your basement, crawl space, garage — even in your attic. Any you find are delivering hear to unused space and should be insulated. Read Insulating Pipes and Heating Ducts to learn more about fixing this problem.

6. Are your exterior door and windows creating cold drafts? Can you rattle your windows in their frames or see daylight between storm frames and your house?

Solution: If this is true, you can install new tight-fitting storm windows and doors, weatherstripping or caulk window and door frames on the outside of your home. Read Types of Caulk and Where to Use Caulking and Types of Weatherstripping and How to Weatherstrip Your Home to learn more.

7. Has a qualified technician tuned up your oil burner in the last year?

Solution: When you schedule a tune up, ask your service company about reducing the firing rate of your oil burner. Most burners are oversized, and significant savings can be achieved by downsizing the nozzle. While some older burners cannot be tuned to efficiencies about 70 percent, newer units can reach between 75 and 85 percent and any improvement in efficiency is money in your pocket. Read Oil Burner Tune Up to learn more. 

8. Is your attic floor, rood or ceiling structure well-insulated?

Solution: If it is not insulated at all or if less that 4 inches of insulation exists, adding insulation could pay for itself within four to seven years.  

9. Are your exterior walls insulated?

Solution: If you don’t know, you can find out by drilling small holes through inconspicuous interior walls (such as a closet) and looking inside. Or remove a switch plate or outlet cover on the exterior wall and carefully probe the outside of the electrical box where it meets the wall covering. If no insulation exists, it is wise to consider adding insulation — the energy savings would outweigh the costs.

10. Are your floors cold and drafty?

Solution: If so, you may want to either (1) insulate the underside of the floor, which is your basement or crawl space, or (2) insulate the walls of your crawl space or basement.

11. Is your freestanding domestic hot water heater warm to the touch?

Solution: If so, then you need to insulate your water heater storage tank. Insulated wrappers save wasted energy and are easily installed.


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