Energy Saving Know-How for Everyone (Yes, Even If You Live Somewhere Warm)

by Stacey Wiktorek - Date: 2007-02-15 - Word Count: 627 Share This!

Do you see the parts of the nation affected by frigid temperatures and think they're the only ones that should be worried about energy costs? Wrong! There are things that can make ALL of our lives easier, whether we live somewhere warm or cold. Stay comfortable and save energy (and money) year round with these tips.

Watch your R-Value
R-value is a measure of a material's resistance to heat flow, or how well it holds back heat gain or loss. The higher the R-value, the better the material's insulating properties. Each material in your home has a unique R-value: your walls, your foundation, your roof, your windows, and even your window treatments! Be conscious of your R-value when you make purchases like additional insulation, windows, window treatments, and other items for your home. Don't be afraid to ask questions about this!

Raise (and Lower) the Shades
When it's cold outside, keep your shades open during the day to allow sunlight in to warm up your rooms, and close them at night to trap in that solar heat. In the summer, doing the opposite can help: keeping shades closed during the day will keep out that same solar gain that you want in the winter, keeping your rooms cool and comfortable.

Keep it Clean
A clean environment is an energy-efficient one. Keeping your windows clean will maximize solar gain during heating season. Dirty filters in furnaces and air conditioners force the appliances to work harder. Changing or cleaning them could save you up to 5% on your utility bills. You might also try cleaning the condenser coils behind or underneath the refrigerator every six months.

No More Window "Pane"
Heat lost through windows can account for 10% to 25% of your heating bill - ouch! Install tight-fitting, insulating window shades. Double honeycomb cell construction is a popular and stylish option for today's window treatments: the unique cellular design serves as a barrier to drafty windows during the winter while adding an elegant look to the window. Adding cellular shades to your windows can block as much as 62% of the heat transfer through a window pane.

Sunscreens offer an additional alternative to combat the heat: with a reflective surface facing out, heat is deflected away from your home.

Update Your Windows, Too
Storm windows can reduce your heat loss through the windows by 25-50%, so install interior or exterior storm windows with weatherstripping at all moveable joints. New windows not an option? A simple repair and weatherization of your current storm windows can also reduce energy costs.

Make Your Appliances Work For You
Your home's appliances use a lot of energy. But they also provide opportunities to save a lot, too. Wait until you have a full load of laundry or dishes before you run your clothes or dishwasher. And washing clothes in cold water can save you up to $63 a year.

And did you know that most new electronics use electricity even when turned off? So unplug those devices and chargers when you're not using them.

Check Your Floors, Ducts, and Sealings
Sealing is important! Leaky ductwork may account for 25% of cooling costs in an average home, so have your ducts tested by a qualified contractor and get any leaks fixed immediately. Plug leaks or gaps in the spaces between doors and ceilings and floors with caulk or other materials.

Do the Math
On your thermostat, that is. In the winter, turning down the thermostat by just one degree can reduce home heating energy costs by up to 4%. In the summer, each degree you raise the thermostat on your cooling system can save you 2% on your energy bill. So pay attention to the temperature! Once you figure out what works for you and your energy bills, use a programmable thermostat to save even more.

Related Tags: energy, window blinds, window shades, window treatments, energy saving, insulating window treatments

Stacey Wiktorek is a member of the in-house professional home design team at, where she provides expert decorating and design advice for anyone looking to beautify their home. For tips and home design ideas, or to receive their monthly Customer Club newsletter with trends, advice, and exclusive coupons, visit their website at

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