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For Winter Energy Savings, Check Your Home Heating Index

Is your home energy efficient? One way to find out is to fill out a Home Heating Index (HHI) questionnaire, provided online through various organizations and utility companies. HHI is the number of the BTUs of energy you use in a year, divided by the square feet of area in your home, divided by heating degree days.

If math is not your strong suit, don't worry, the online calculators do the arithmetic for you. You just need your home's:

  • Annual fuel use
  • Square feet
  • Zip code

Once you plug in all the data, the calculator will give you a reading of your home's energy efficiency.

The lower the number, the more energy efficient your home; the higher number means you are living in a drafty home that probably costs you a bundle to heat over the winter.

HHI and What it Costs You in Heating Bills

  • 13 or more: energy inefficient. You are losing precious heat throughout the heating season, and your heating costs reflect that. Schedule an energy audit as soon as possible: some utility companies provide energy audits for free. Take a look at the tips in this article on "how to lower your heating costs" and improve your home's energy efficiency.
  • Between 8 and 13: average energy efficiency. But don't rest on your energy efficiency laurels; there's always room for improvement, and an energy audit might give you ideas on saving even more on your heating costs.
  • Lower than 8: energy efficient. Congratulations: you have taken all the right steps to improve your energy efficiency.

How to Lower Your Heating Costs

Knowing your HHI is just the first step in learning about energy savings. Here are some simple ways to get your HHI number lower, and bring down your heating costs this winter:

  1. Don't let heat escape. If a window or door is left open even just a crack, warm air will escape. Check any other cracks and holes in the basement, attic and other less obvious areas such as around the bathtub. Caulk up any holes or cracks you may find.
  2. Maintain your furnace. Make sure the filter is changed at least once a year before the heating season.
  3. Keep temps 68 degrees, maximum in winter. Turn heat down if you are not home. If you can't remember to do that, install a programmable thermostat.
  4. Insulate. The average cost to insulate an attic is about $500 to $75--and you'll immediately see the difference in your heating costs. When you consider the tax incentives for insulating, it becomes a win-win.
  5. Check your windows. If you can't afford new energy efficient windows, make sure your current windows have good weather-stripping.
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Home Heating Systems

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It usually isn’t until we receive our energy bill that we remember how our home is heated. Heat is often taken for granted because for the most part our heating systems are controlled by a simple turn of the thermostat and magically we have heat! In recent times, homeowners are becoming more conscious of how much heat is used because energy costs are taking a bigger bite out of our household budgets.

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Common Air Conditioning Problems

Common A/C Problems
Most air conditioning problems are a result of flawed installation, poor service, and insufficient maintenance. However, there are several ways to check for and resolve problems associated with your central air conditioning. Common problems include the compressor failing to turn on, the air not coming out cool enough, low airflow, and water leaks.

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Energy Efficient Air Conditioning

Energy Efficient Air Conditioning
In order to get the most out of your air conditioning system, it is important to understand the different designs, components, and operating principles. Paying close attention to the proper sizing, selection, installation, maintenance, and correct use are keys to lowing your overall costs.

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