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BUTTON UP YOUR HOME THIS WINTER

As you move inside this winter, don't let your energy dollars leak outside. By keeping your home insulated and well-sealed, and by using energy wisely, you spend a warm, cozy - and affordable - winter at home. And by saving energy, you'll help reduce gases that contribute to global warming and other environmental problems.

Here are some things you can do:

Have your heating system inspected. Have a professional inspect and clean your furnace and ducts. If you have a forced-air furnace, check your filters and replace them as needed. Generally, they should be changed every month or two, especially during periods of high usage.
Purchase a programmable thermostat. You can save as much as 10% a year on your heating bills by simply turning your thermostat back 10% to 15% for 8 hours. You can do this automatically without sacrificing comfort by installing a programmable thermostat.
Check your insulation. This is one of the fastest and most cost-efficient ways to reduce energy waste and costs. You can increase the comfort of your home while reducing your heating and cooling needs by up to 30% simply by investing just a few hundred dollars in insulation and weatherization products.

Inspect your windows. There are a number of simple steps you can take to reduce the amount of heat lost through your windows. Be sure to close your curtains and shades at night; open them during the day so that you can benefit from the free solar heat. Keep windows on the south side of your house clean to maximize the amount of sunlight coming through them.

COLD FACTS ABOUT FIREPLACES
When you light a blazing fire on a cold winter day it looks and feels wonderful, but it can be an expensive endeavor. A fireplace is one of the least efficient heat sources because it sends most of the heat in your house straight up the chimney. A fireplace can exhaust as much as 24,000 cubic feet of air per hour to the outside, which must be replaced by cold air coming into the house from the outside, which then must be reheated. There are ways you can limit the loss of heat when enjoying a quiet evening by the fire.

FACT: Fireplace smoke can contain hundreds of chemicals, many of which can cause health problems for children, pregnant women, and the elderly.

LET THERE BE LIGHT - AND ENERGY SAVINGS, TOO
Household lighting is a great way to brighten up the dark winter days. But lighting accounts for 20% to 25% of all electricity consumed in the U.S. In a typical home, half or more of lighting energy is wasted by obsolete equipment, inadequate maintenance, or inefficient use.

Here are some ways to lighten the energy load, while keeping your home bright:

Lighting controls turn lights on and off or dim them. There are several kinds:
Photocells turn lights on and off in response to natural light levels - for example, outdoor lights on at dusk and off at dawn. Advanced designs gradually raise and lower light levels with changing daylight levels. Mechanical or electronic time clocks automatically turn on and off indoor or outdoor lights for security, safety, such as front porch lights.
Crank timers, which are spring-driven and similar to old oven timers, limit lights to short durations where the need for light is brief.
Occupancy sensors activate lights when you enter a room then turn off them off after you leave. They are popular for areas used infrequently, such as storerooms.
Dimmers reduce the wattage and output of light bulbs. They also significantly increase the life of incandescent bulbs.

Replacing conventional bulbs with energy-saving types can cut costs without reducing lighting:
Replace standard lamps with compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs in spaces where lights are needed for long periods of time. A standard 18-watt CFL can replace a 75-watt bulb without losing light. CFLs use 75% less energy than a standard bulb and last up to 10 times longer. Over the life of one CFL, you can avoid replacing up to 13 incandescent bulbs! It also means you can save at least $25 in energy costs over the life of each CFL that replaces an incandescent bulb.
Consider three-way lamps; they make it easier to keep lighting levels low when brighter light isn't necessary.

Maintenance is vital to efficient lighting. Light levels decrease over time because of aging lamps and dirt on fixtures, lamps, and room surfaces. Together, these can reduce total illumination by 50% or more, while lights continue drawing full power.

Here are things you can do:
Clean fixtures and lamps annually by wiping off the dust. However, never clean an incandescent bulb while it is turned on. The cooling effect might shatter a hot bulb.
Clean or repaint small rooms every year and larger rooms every 2 to 3 years. Dirt on surfaces reduces the amount of light they reflect
And, of course, turn off lights when you leave a room, even if only for a few minutes.

FACTOID: A typical family spends about $90 a year, or 10% of its electricity bill, on lighting.

Written by: EarthSave , a federation of America’s leading non-profit environmental and conservation charities, promotes environmental education and charitable giving in employee workplace giving campaigns.


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