“R” You Energy Savvy?

Over the last ten years the price of residential heating oil has risen more than 150% in Connecticut (source: U.S. Energy Information Administration). Judging by the “talk at the water cooler”, the cost of other heating energy has  increased as well.

No doubt this inflation in the cost of heating has affected regions beyond New England as well. While we don’t use fuel oil to cool our homes in the summer, most of us have experienced noticeable price escalation in electrical power cost as well.

So what can we do about this?

Naturally we can shop for the best value in fuel oil service and electrical power. We can be more careful about lights and TV’s being left on when there is nobody in the room. Programmable thermostats can help regulate heat when no one is around. And, of course for the more hearty, a heavier sweater in winter may allow for a lower thermostat setting.

But what about our house itself?

Have we made it as energy efficient as we can, or at least close to it? Older homes in particular can often be improved in their use of energy. This is usually achieved by improving the insulation and making the house more “weather-tight”.

Let’s talk a moment about how heat primarily leaves the house in the winter and enters the house in the summer.

  1. Heat loss takes place directly through the walls, ceilings, floors, and windows in the winter and enters the same way during the summer. This kind of heat transfer is known as Conduction
  2. There are many small openings around doors and windows, through holes in the floor for plumbing and electrical cabling, even the spaces taken by the boxes for switches and outlets. Air passing through these openings, called Air Infiltration, can cool a house in the winter, and warm it during the summer, not what we’re looking for.

Both of these likely areas for improving home heating and cooling efficiency and should be addressed in any effort to reduce heating and cooling costs. Continue reading