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The secret to saving money heating your home: Insulate!



Everyone wants that “secret” or the “insider’s scoop” that gives them the edge. And for homeowners this past winter, they were looking for that secret to cutting their heating cost.

The quickest and easiest way to lower energy bills is to seal, caulk and insulate. I know it isn’t a magic wand that will make your energy bills disappear, but it will go a long way to controlling your energy cost.

The Department of Energy estimates that the average homeowner can reduce their annual fuel usage by 10 percent or more. While it may not seem like a lot, for a homeowner who is using 1,000 gallons of heating oil at $3 per gallon, it could translate into a $300 savings.

Most homeowners are surprised to learn how many ways air escapes into and out of your home. It is estimated that floors, walls and ceilings represent 31 percent of air infiltration; ducts, 15 percent; fireplaces, 14 percent; doors, 11 percent; and windows, 10 percent.

Even newer homes aren’t exempt. It is estimated that only 20 percent of homes built before 1980 are well-insulated.

We learned of a homeowner whose house was generally well-insulated, but he was seeing higher than normal heating bills. After sealing and caulking around the doors, he could still feel cool air. On real cold days it felt like the door was open. The interior trim was removed and he found that the contractor failed to insulate around the door.

There are examples like this in virtually every home. When was the last time you caulked around all your windows or doors? When was the last time you added insulation to your attic?

In New England, it is recommended that your attic have an R-49 value. Most homes only have an R-value of 19. To find out if you have enough attic insulation, measure the thickness of the insulation. If it is less than 7 inches of fiberglass or rock wool, or 6 inches of cellulose, you could probably benefit by adding more.

If you are going to check the amount of insulation in your attic, please take the time to check chimney penetrations through insulated floors and ceilings. A tremendous amount of heat can escape around the chimney if it isn’t properly sealed. However, before sealing it check your local fire codes. Sheet metal is required.