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Inexpensive Winter Energy Saving Tips for HOA Homeowners

How can homeowners inexpensively prepare the interior of their homes for more energy efficiency and protection against cold weather? There are a number of low cost ways to save on energy that does not require any major alterations and investments in your home.

1. Lower the Thermostat: Most households spend an average of 50% to 70% of their energy bills on heating and cooling. Lowing the thermostat may save your heating bill between 1% to 3% for each degree lowered. Consider setting the thermostat to a temperature of approximately 55°-60° Fahrenheit when you are away. Consider keeping the themostat around 65°-68° Fahrenheit when you’re home. Elderly folks may need temperatures adjusted slightly higher. Also wearing more layers of clothing and snuggling up in a blanket to compensate for slightly lower temperatures that may help you save in monthly energy costs.

2. Use Energy Efficient Light Bulbs: LED light bulbs use less energy. Installing lower wattage light bulbs will too. If you use an overhead light that uses a 100 watt bulb, you may install a lower wattage bulb or accessorize with multiple lamps using 40 watt bulbs or lower. The combination of LED lights and lowering the wattage of lights may save you in monthly energy costs.

3. Lower Hot Water Heater Settings: If your home has an individual hot water tank, you may turn its thermostat down to 120° Fahrenheit to reduce the cost of heating water. Some hot water heaters are also equipped with controls that allow a lower setting while you are away from home. If your hot water heater is located in an exterior room, most are equipped with a temperature gauge to protect against extreme temperatures. Make sure it is insulated, especially the pipes to protect against freezing.

4. Insulate Water Pipes: Insulating water pipes may also help you save money on hot water and help prevent pipes from freezing. Pre-cut pipe foam insulation is available at most hardware stores and can be easily trimmed to size and fastened with duct tape. Look for the highest R value insulation (which measures heat blocking capability) that your budget may afford. Check also with your financial advisor to determine if there are any tax benefits for adding insulation.

5. Reduce Door and Window Drafts: According to the U.S. Department of Energy, drafts around windows and doors can waste between 5% to 30% of your energy use. Determine whether the weather stripping under and around your doors is adequate to keep out cold drafts of air. If it is not properly sealing out cold air, you may have it replaced. Caulk around windows to seal up any gaps. You may place folded towels or small blankets around the bottom of doors and along window sills to further insulate these areas from cold air drafts.

6. Use Low-Tech Thermal Heating and Insulation: Using the natural thermal energy of the sun shining through the windows and doors is a good energy efficient way to help heat rooms. Another idea is to establish thermally insulated barriers to keep the cold air out and the warm air in. Keep curtains and blinds closed at night. Close them also during daylight when windows are shaded from direct sun light. If you do not have full window length curtains, you may place blankets or towels over windows or blinds. This will help prevent cold air drafts from circulating.

7. Regularly Change Air Filters: Regularly maintaining HVAC returns with clean air filters and vacuuming the grill covers will also help your system operate more efficiently. Dirty filters place a strain on the system and increase energy costs. Keeping air filters regularly changed will better help the HVAC system maintain its pressurization balance to properly distribute heat inside your home. Most fiberglass air filters trap between 10% to 40% of debris and require monthly replacements. HEPA filters are much better at trapping debris, bacteria, mold, viruses and pollen that cause illness and irritation, removing up to 99.97% of airborne particles, and may last up to three months.

8. Run Ceiling Fans In Reverse. Many ceiling fans come equiped with a switch that reverses the direction of the blades. During the summer, the blades rotate to cause a downward breeze. By reversing the switch, the blades distributes warmer air pooling near the ceiling that is circulated back into the living space. Some estimates indicate reversing the ceiling fan can lower heating costs by up to 10%.

These are just a few examples of cost-efficient energy savings tips. It is smart to prepare the interior of a home for more energy savings. However, always review your covenant restrictions before doing anything that may be visible from outside your home or that may change the existing construction of your home. Your Board of Directors or association manager should be able to assist you in understanding any applicable covenant restrictions and architectural requirements.

DISCLAIMER: This information is provided as informational and educational only. For legal advice consult an attorney. For professional contruction advice consult a licensed general contractor. Energy savings may vary from home to home and other contributing factors. The figures used above are estimates based upon information available to the public.

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