The lists of energy saving references are infinite. Government agencies, public utilities, industry, universaties, citizens' groups - all offer suggestions and make recommendations. The homeowner can become so bewildered as to retreat to no-action.[TEXT OMITTED FROM SOURCE] bellious course.
Every day [WORD ILLEGIBLE] of exotic new products or improvements to the old are offered on the market, each making us feel that if we fail to buy we are not doing our best to conserve energy.
Merchants, no matter what they have been selling, now present the same merchandise as a "can't-be-without-surefire" product to assist in energy reduction.
What could be new about an 8-ounce drinking glass? Nothing, except the ad points out how much water conservation you will be practicing over using the old 10-ouncer! Or the appeal to efficiency in machines - "Cool that hot room with our new superdooper efficient air conditioner." So now you have a cool room and an energy saving machine where there had not been air conditioning before!
With due regard to developing efficiency everywhere in every energy consuming component of the house - the most dramatic results will normally be produced by directing your efforts within these categories!
Living Habits: Your personal living habits must be capable of enduring lower temperatures. Unquestionably, those now trite words "turn your thermostat down" is where to begin, 58 or 60 at night, never above 65 during the day. So easy - if you will learn to live with sweaters and extra blankets and two in a bed at night.
The coziness alone is a comfort.
There are 1,001 other waste-reducing habits from how to bathe (or to bathe at all) to proper cooking techniques, water and heat control when doing the laundry and closing doors and dampers. But living with less heat far outweighs all others.
Insulation Stuff, staple or glue it - everywhere and as thick as practical. The easiest and most effective place to install insulation is in the attic. It is usually accessible without any alteration. Basement crawl spaces are usually accessible; do these next if budget permits. If there is already some insulation in place, your savings will not be as dramatic as if there were none. So don't expect the much advertised slogans - "over 30 per cent savings, recap your investment in three years." That may only occur where there had been absolutely no insulation.
Storm Windows: Use plastic sheeting for an inexpensive efficient window treatment for insulation. Doubling the glass reduces heat loss through the windows about 50 per cent. Alert yourself to advertising that claims "cut heat loss 50 per cent." It does, but this means 50 per cent of the window area where only about 20 per cent of the heat is normally lost. So storm windows reduce 50 per cent of the area where 20 per cent is lost, in other words 10 per cent of total heat loss!
In cases where your original storm windows are not weatherstripped or you are unfortunate enough to have the loosely fitting steel casements or cheap aluminum sliders, your new storm windows may reduce heat loss proportionely more. If on a limited budget, place storm windows on the northwest sides first. Assuming half the windows are on the northwest you will receive more than half the savings by installing on this side.
There are other small things that can be done to reduce infiltration. Caulking at windows, exterior joints, sill plates; weatherstripping, etc. With little cost or effort, these are the next most important procedures.
The price of fuel and energy will probably be higher next year, so begin now.
The writer heads a local inspection and consultant firm for homes. He recently co-authored a book on energy savings for the homeowner. It will be published soon by Emerson Books.