Jewish World Review Oct. 17, 2005 / 14 Tishrei,
Beating the record high cost of winter
The news is not good for those of us who plan to stay reasonably
warm this winter. The cost of heating oil is expected to spike by 70
percent over last year's cost. The only good thing about the
expected 30-percent jump in natural gas prices is that the increase
is less than oil. And while the news isn't as bad for the cost of
electricity, the overall picture is grim: It's going to cost a great
deal more to stay warm this coming winter than ever before.
While there's not much we can do about the high cost of the energy
required to heat our homes, there's lots we can do to make sure we
use as little of it as possible, and that our precious warmed air
stays in the house not in the cold outdoors, sucked out through
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, stopping air leaks in a
house can save as much as 40 percent on the home's heating and
cooling costs. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to
turn your home into an airtight "envelope."
The basic tools needed to tighten up a home are a good all-purpose
caulk, a caulking gun, filler caulk for larger holes, weather
stripping for doors and windows and insulating gaskets for
electrical outlets. You may also need expanding foam to fill larger
LIGHT SWITCHES AND ELECTRICAL OUTLETS: Install foam gaskets behind
all light switches and electrical outlet covers, even those in
interior walls. These simple foam gaskets help seal the holes
created when the outlets and light switches are built into homes.
After installing the gaskets, use child safety plugs to keep the
cold air from coming in through the sockets. Find foam gasket kits
at home-improvement stores, or cut your own from the foam trays that
come with packaged meat.
AIR CONDITIONERS: Remove window air conditioners. If they can't be
removed, seal up the area around the unit with removable rope caulk
and add an air conditioner window insulation blanket.
WINDOWS AND DOORS: Weather-strip and caulk all cracks between walls
and window trim, especially under windowsills. Replace broken glass,
and putty any loose windowpanes. Caulk around the moving parts of
windows with a non-permanent caulk during the winter. This type of
caulk can be easily removed in the spring.
RECESSED LIGHTS AND BATHROOM FANS: Caulk around these from below
with high-temperature, flexible caulk.
OTHER EXTERIOR WALL HOLES: Seal around all ceiling fixtures, heat
registers, medicine cabinets, bathtubs, kitchen cabinets, drains and
water pipes where they enter the walls, and any other holes in
FIREPLACE: When the fireplace is not in use, keep the flue damper
tightly closed. A chimney is designed specifically for smoke to
escape, so until you close it, warm air escapes 24 hours a day!
It's never too late to winterize your home. But if you get started
today it will be a lot simpler than if you wait until Old Man Winter
is knocking at your door.
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