Although it’s hard to tell by this very temperate week… Winter is here. Because Los Angeles winters are comparatively mild, particularly compared to the rest of the country, we tend to let our guard down and then are shocked when we get our gas and electric bills and our jaws hit the floor.
Despite lower gasoline costs at the pump, the ever-rising prices of natural gas and certainly electricity can make it more and more challenging to keep your thermostat at a comfortable temperature and just forget about it.
This said, there are a host of smart insulation techniques to keep your energy bill from getting out of hand on the days the mercury dips.
Insulation isn’t just for the walls. Many homeowner miss insulating some key areas of their dwellings, leading not only to a decrease in temperature control, but in an increase in energy costs.
Let’s examine the areas that can be overlooked when installing or adding new insulation to your home:
First off, not all crawl spaces need insulation. There are two kinds of crawl spaces: ventilated and unventilated. Only ventilated ones need insulation. The reason a crawl space will have ventilation is to help reduce moisture levels. During the cold months, these vents allow cold air to blow through; this is why it’s important to insulate them from the outside elements.
In Southern California most attic spaces are unfinished, which means they will probably not be ideally insulated. If your attic isn’t well insulated, it is the place where warm air will move to during the winter and where hot air will invade during summer. Warm air always moves into cool-air spaces and insulation helps reduce this transfer of energy. By insulating your attic, you form a barrier to keep the air outside from coming in, and diminishing the transfer of your climate controlled air (in this case heated air) from escaping to your colder attic.) In the summer it’s the exact opposite problem as the attic is essentially a hot box or an oven on top of your air conditioned house and your comfort system will work overtime to keep you cool in the summer or warm in the winter as the colder air comes in and your energy will literally go through the roof.
If your ductwork traverses spaces that are NOT climate controlled by heating or cooling, those sections of ductwork MUST be sealed and insulated. Ducting will lose latent heating and cooling while in operation if ducting travels through unconditioned areas.
One of the best ways to assess whether or not your home has the correct amount of insulation is to work with a trained LA heating and cooling professional. They will check sensitive temperature loss areas such as your attic, basement, crawlspace, and behind the walls of your home for insulation. The thicker the insulation, the higher the R-Factor.
If you presently have insulation, but are unsure how old it is, you can have it checked by a professional heating contractor. Insulation degrades with age, and over time, it should be replaced for greater energy savings.
Caulking around doors, windows, recent renovations will cut down on your heat loss. If you find that your house feels drafty in certain areas such as doorways, around windows, baseboards, hallways, or bathrooms, spending a few dollars on a tube of caulk at Home Depot or Lowes can save you a lot of $$$ on your heating bills over time.
Changing Your Air Filter Regularly
If you don’t change your air filter on a regular basis, it will cause poor airflow and a greater burden on your heating system that will cost you money each month. Something as simple as using the right air filter and changing it routinely will equal big savings over time.
Weather Stripping around Pet Doors!
Weather Stripping Around Doors, Windows and yes…Pet Doors. Adding weather stripping around windows, doors, and especially pet doors, is relatively inexpensive, and will save you energy and money over time.
Routine Heater and Furnace Service
Scheduling Routine Furnace Service even in LA will = saving dollars. Your professional heating service and maintenance should include all moving and non-moving parts of your furnace including fan, blower, igniter, gas valve assembly, air flow and a visual inspection for cracks or damage.
A programmable thermostat should be installed in every home. Programming your digital thermostat to keep your home temperature constant at all times, without sudden temperature spikes will cut down on energy consumption. When you constantly turn the heat up or down, your heating systems is forced to work harder and use more energy. Think of it as “cruise control” in your car and how much that saves on gas over a long trip.
Old Furnace…? It may be time to retire it.
If your furnace or central heating system is over 20 Years Old or more, it’s time to call your local heating contractor and discuss furnace installation options. The improvement in energy efficiency in the last two decades alone will floor you.