You are here: 2012 Weatherization Month Campaign

Weatherization Tips

Here are some excellent tips on water & heat efficiency and maintenance, exterior weatherization, energy efficiency, and home safety. These simple tips will help you conserve energy, save money, improve the comfort of your home, and may even save your life! Check out our weatherization assistance page to find out if you qualify for the program.

Fixing leaks and maintaining your water heater.

  • Did you know? A leaky faucet that drips just once a second can cost $1 every month. Be sure to repair leaky faucets, leaky pipes, and toilets that tend to run; you’re losing money with every drip.
  • Efficiency: Properly insulating your water heater and water pipes helps retain heat and reduce water heater use. This can also help to make sure that pipes don’t freeze and burst in the cool weather, which can be very costly to repair.
  • Maintain your water heater. This includes draining sediment from the tank twice a year, and checking the pressure relief valve and heating elements yearly. These measures can greatly increase the efficiency and lifespan of your water heater. You can also improve water heater efficiency by installing heat traps and a timer to turn it off when it is not in use.
  • Upgrade your old water heater if it needs to be replaced soon. Consider switching to a tankless water heater; these models eliminate heat loss, provide constant flows of hot water, and don’t run out like tanks do. Find out if a tankless heater is right for you.
  • Turning down the temperature on your water heater can lead to big savings. Most water heaters are set at 140°F, but 120°F should be more than hot enough. Dishwashers do need extra-hot water, so be sure to check that your dishwasher has its own internal heating system before you turn the temperature down (almost all dishwashers made since the 1990s do).
  • BONUS Tip: Replacing an old toilet with a new, low-flow model can save up to 5 gallons of water per flush. Installing low-flow faucets and showerheads can also significantly reduce your water bill.

Keeping you and your home warmer this winter

Attic Prep & Insulation from WxTV on Vimeo.

Insulating an attic is one of the cornerstones of weatherization. On a six degree day in Fargo, ND, Doug Bakke and crew will show us what to look for when prepping and sealing an attic and then blowing in cellulose to reach an R50 target.

  • Myth v. Fact: Most heat in your home does not escape through your windows. 31% of heat is lost through the floors, ceilings, and walls; only 10% of heat is lost through windows. Insulating your home goes a long way in reducing heating bills. Check your home for small cracks and holes, especially around electric outlets, windows, and doors. Use weather-stripping, caulk, or a foam sealant to seal them. Also consider insulating walls, floors, and ceilings that are not already insulated. Here are two links for information regarding home insulation:
  • Did you know? Sealing leaks in and insulating ducts can improve the efficiency of heating and cooling by as much as 20%. That’s a lot of savings each year.
  • Simple Savings: Replacing windows can save heat, but it’s also really expensive. Instead, make sure windows are well sealed, and consider purchasing window insulation kits as a less pricey alternative.
  • If you have a programmable thermostat, lower the temperature a few degrees at times when nobody is home and at night to reduce costs. Reducing the temperature by 10% for just eight hours a day can save up to 10% on your bill.
  • BONUS Tip: Check the furnace filter once a month. A dirty filter reduces efficiency and reduces the life of your furnace.
  • BONUS Tip: Check chimney flues and exhaust vents to make sure they aren’t letting cold air in and heat out. If they are, have them repaired or replaced.
  • BONUS Tip: Having a professional give your heating system a checkup and cleaning yearly can improve the efficiency of your heating system by as much as 10%.

Exterior Home Preparation

  • Prevention: As it cools down outside, many pests - insects and animals alike - will try to find a warm place to stay, like your house. To stop them from getting in, be sure to seal any cracks or holes on the outside of your home, replace any loose mortar or weather stripping, and install screens over any openings such as chimneys and vents.
  • Quick Tip: Check the attic (or top floor) for water leaks during the rain and the cold. If you find any, have them repaired as soon as possible to avoid major damage.
  • A Good Foundation: As cold weather approaches, check your foundation. While a few small cracks are common, larger cracks leave space for water to freeze and expand the crack, as well as letting additional cold and moisture into the house. If the foundation has any significant cracks, have them repaired or sealed. Also check driveways and walks for cracks where water could expand and cause damage, and seal any major cracks. Keep driveways and walkways salted during the winter, especially where water tends to pool, in order to prevent ice from forming.
  • Clean Sweep: Clean out your gutters before it gets too cold out. Clogged gutters lead to water and ice buildup around your home and lead to damage that requires costly repairs and threatens the structural integrity of your home.
  • Let it Snow: Check for snow buildup on the roof of your house, garage, or shed; this is generally a problem for people with flat or low sloped roofs. Snow is heavy and can put excessive strain on a roof, causing it to collapse. If too much snow is piling up on your roof, remove it or have a professional remove it for you.
  • BONUS Tip: In case of severe weather and/or power loss, be sure to have an emergency kit in your home that includes bottled water, non-perishable food, flashlights and batteries, a first-aid kit, and blankets. For more information on emergency planning and what to put in a survival kit, visit: http://www.ready.gov/

Energy Efficiency

10 Steps to Energy Efficient Living from WxTV on Vimeo.

As part of our Consumer Education Series, WxTV will take a look at things that you can do as the homeowner to start saving money on your energy bills. We'll start with some of the most basic improvements and work our way up to things that are a bit more involved or costly.

  • A Bright Idea: Switch out old light bulbs with compact florescent bulbs (CFLs). These bulbs use less energy, last up to 10 times longer, and produce less heat. CFLs save about $30 per bulb over its lifetime. Even better, most stores carry them and they come in a range of styles and lighting options.
  • Did you know? Even if an appliance is turned off, it still draws electricity from the plug. Unplug small appliances (such as toasters, coffeepots, etc) and charge cords when they aren’t in use. To save even more electricity, remember to turn the lights off when you aren’t in the room.
  • Upgrading: Consider replacing old appliances with new, more energy efficient ones. The savings over time can be significant. Look for appliances that are ENERGY STAR rated and read the Energy Guide labels to see how much energy you can save. ENERGY STAR appliances use less electricity and/or less water than other appliances. To learn more, visit: http://www.energystar.gov/
  • Did you know? Ninety percent of washer energy is used to heat water. Whenever possible, use the cold cycle to wash clothes. Also, be sure to clean out the lint filter after every load of laundry. Clogged filters increase drying time, and therefore costs. Only run appliances such as the dishwasher or washing machine when they’re full. Washing one dish or one shirt costs the same as doing a whole load.
  • Recycle: Take advantage of community recycling programs to reduce your carbon footprint. Depending on what materials are accepted, recycle items including glass, plastic, aluminum, paper, and cardboard. For more information about recycling in Cuyahoga County, visit: http://cuyahogaswd.org/en-US/home.aspx
  • BONUS Tip: If you’re going on vacation, unplug power strips and small appliances that aren’t needed, turn off the water and gas (if you have manual shutoffs), and lower (winter) or raise (summer) the temperature on your thermostat. These quick tasks will save money while you are away.

Home Safety

Health & Safety Series: Mold & Moisture from WxTV on Vimeo.

WxTV jumps back into our Health & Safety Series with this episode dealing with mold and moisture problems. We'll travel to the states of Washington and Maryland to look at three homes with existing mold problems and listen to how these crews handled this challenging health issue.

  • Fire Safety: Make sure that heating vents (including your outside dryer exhaust vent), registers, and radiators are kept clear. Blocking them reduces heating efficiency, and more importantly, is a fire hazard. Test your smoke detector(s) to make sure the batteries are still working. Also check carbon monoxide or radon detectors if you have them. A carbon monoxide detector is a low-cost investment that goes a long way towards keeping you safe.
  • Mold Prevention: Stop mold by ensuring damp places have good ventilation; use a dehumidifier if necessary. Check areas where mold is likely to grow, such as showers, under sinks, the basement, and other warm and damp areas. Small, well-defined areas of mold can be scrubbed away with cleaner if you don’t have strong mold allergies; however, large mold spots or those that involve challenging areas (such as under floorboards) should be dealt with by a professional. For more information on moisture control, visit: http://energy.gov/energysaver/articles/moisture-control
  • Child safety: If you use space heaters, make sure they are approved for indoors and out of reach and that  children know not to touch them. Keep plastic covers on plugs when not in use and make sure heater cords are out of reach or tucked away.