Homeowners may be tempted to forget about energy saving now that one of the worst winters is history is about over and the fuel bills are getting smaller.
Actually, this is a good time for the handyman or woman to check for the cause of chilly rooms, the source of drafts or leaks near windows or doors. Taking care of these problems will be easier if the work is spaced out during the warm spring and summer days rather than conducting a crash program in the fall.
Two recent publications that do much to take the mystery out of energy-saving techniques are Consumer Reports' "Money-Saving Guide to Energy in the Home" (Doubleday & Co., $3.50, softbound) and "How to Beat the Energy Crisis and Still Live in Style" by Bill Baker (G.P. Putnam's Sons, $12.95).
The editors of Consumer Reports accurately point out that only the most unhandy person can't handle many energy-saving home improvements -- caulking, weather stripping and some types of insulation. But for the homeowner who might require professional help with more involved projects, such as installing a cooling or heating system, there's sound advice on how to choose a contractor, draw up a contract and avoid getting cheated.
(Home repairs rank second to automobiles as a source of consumer complaints, according to a federal government survey.)
The "Money-Saving Guide" takes the reader through the entire house detailing how the heating, cooling and hotwater systems work and how to get the most out of them. It discusses the pros and cons and rates the effectiveness of various energy-saving devices, such as furnace flue dampers and gas range igniters. Much attention is given to windows, caulking, weather stripping and insulation. Many persons may be confused when confronted with the many types of caulking compounds, insulation and weather strippings on the market and how to apply them.
Believe it or not, fears of an energy crisis are bringing back the woodburning furnace and cookstove.
And in at least one instance, a homeowner in Connecticut converted his oil furnace to a wood burner. This incident is related in Mary Twitchell "Wood Energy" (Garden Way Publishing, $7.95, softbound).
"Wood Energy" is one of the better books on heating with wood to reach the market since homeowners, particularly in the East, started getting hit with outrageous fuel bils for home heating.