more comfort less energy
MORE COMFORT
LESS ENERGY
Your guide to energy savings
and year-round comfort
from the experts
For more information about efficient natural gas
or energy-saving programs and services,
visit our website at CenterPointEnergy.com
or call 612-372-4727 (800-245-2377).
©2012 CenterPoint Energy 123226 MN
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Sealing the basement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .25
Sealing other areas on the inside of your home . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .26
1. Dialing down and dressing up . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
Sealing the outside of your home . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28
Dialing down your thermostat . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5
Caulk and other sealing materials . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .29
Programmable/setback thermostat. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
Recommended thermostat settings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
Exceptions to recommended thermostat settings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
Caulk . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29
Types of caulk . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29
Removable caulk . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29
Permanent caulk. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
How to caulk with a caulk gun. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31
Other materials for sealing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33
Keep warm in winter and cool in summer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7
How to stay warm . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
How to stay cool. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
2. Sealing your home . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
3. Appliances . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
Heating system . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .35
Why sealing your home can save you money . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10
Sealing the attic . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11
Sealing doors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .13
Weatherstripping doors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
How to weatherstrip a door with vinyl V-strip . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
Doorsweeps . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
How to put on a metal doorsweep . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
Caulking doors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
Other ideas for doors. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
Cooling system . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .36
Water heater and hot water pipes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .37
Kitchen range . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .40
Range top. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40
Oven . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41
Clothes washer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .42
Clothes dryer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .42
Refrigerator/freezer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .43
Sealing windows . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .19
Dishwasher . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .44
Using caulk to seal windows and window frames. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
Weatherstripping windows . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
How to weatherstrip a double-hung window with vinyl V-strip . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
How to weatherstrip a casement window with vinyl V-strip . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
Using window coverings to help seal windows . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
Other ideas for windows. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
Other energy users in your home . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .45
4. Natural gas: the premium fuel. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47
5. For more information . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48
INTRODUCTION
Stay warm, keep cool and save money
How to use this book
By using the ideas in this book, you can increase the seasonal comfort
of your home while improving energy efficiency. The book shows you
how to make your home warmer in winter and cooler in summer and
how to cut the amount of money you spend on energy. Most of the
ideas in this book will cost you very little; many of them are free.
1. Scan through the book to
familiarize yourself with
the variety of information
it contains.
The book is divided into five parts. The first part shows you how to
dial down your thermostat and make yourself comfortable; the second
shows you how to seal your home from the inside for greater energy
efficiency; the third shows you how to save energy by using your
appliances wisely. Part four provides general information about
natural gas. You can turn to section five to find out how to contact us.
2. Use the information in the
first part of the book to
dial down your thermostat
and make yourself more
comfortable.
3. Follow the step-by-step
instructions for sealing the
various parts of your home.
Always begin in the attic or
upper level. Each crack or gap you seal will save energy.
NOTE: Before you begin to seal, read the section called “Caulk and other
sealing materials” (pages 29-34). Be sure to read all the step-by-step
instructions for any task before starting. If step-by-step instructions are not
given for a task you need to do, call CenterPoint Energy (see page 50).
4. Use the last part of the book as a handy reference for ways to save
energy on your home appliances.
5. Relax. Think about the comfort and energy savings you’ll enjoy by
using this helpful resource.
1
2
1. DIALING DOWN AND DRESSING UP
3. APPLIANCES
The easiest, least expensive way to increase the
comfort of your home is to use your thermostat
wisely and dress to make yourself comfortable.
If you use your thermostat wisely
and seal your home, you should
enjoy greater comfort and
increased energy savings. But
you can also save energy by
using home appliances wisely.
The last part of this book
explains how to get the most
from your energy dollar through
the efficient use of appliances.
The first part of the book explains how to use
your thermostat for maximum comfort and
lower energy costs; dress for comfort, whatever
the weather outside; and adjust your lifestyle
for maximum energy savings.
2. SEALING YOUR HOME
The cold blasts of winter and the heat waves of summer can greatly
affect your comfort at home. While you can’t control the weather, you
can control the amount of heated or cooled air that enters and leaves
your home. Sealing the air leaks in your home is one of the best ways
to save energy – and money.
In section two, find out how to find and fix the air leaks by sealing
doors, windows and other areas inside and outside your home. You’ll
find step-by-step instructions including lists of tools and materials
you’ll need to help increase your home’s energy efficiency.
4. NATURAL GAS: THE PREMIUM FUEL
Natural gas is a clean-burning, energy efficient and economical energy
source. In section four you’ll learn more facts about natural gas and
its benefits for homeowners.
5. FOR MORE INFORMATION
We’re easy to reach if you’d like to get other publications or tips on
making your home more comfortable and energy efficient. In section
five, you’ll find out how to contact us by phone, mail or online.
3
4
1. DIALING DOWN & DRESSING UP
Dialing down
your thermostat
Since 70 to 80 percent of your
energy use is for heating, dialing
down your thermostat is the
easiest and most economical way
to cut your energy costs. During
the coldest winter months, you can
save 5 to 10 percent on your fuel
bill simply by lowering the
thermostat five degrees for four or
more hours each day. The greater
the difference between the inside
and outside temperatures, the
faster your house will lose heat. Therefore, if you dial down your
thermostat, your house will lose heat slower.
Programmable / setback thermostat
A programmable/setback thermostat saves
energy by automatically adjusting the
temperature setting in your home on a
pre-set schedule. You can set the
programmable/setback thermostat to lower
the temperature at bedtime and to raise it
shortly before you wake up. If no one is home all day, you might
choose a double programmable/setback thermostat. This allows you
to also lower and raise the temperature after you leave in the morning
and before you return in the evening. The energy savings from using a
programmable/setback thermostat will usually pay for the cost of the
thermostat in one to two years.
5
Recommended thermostat settings
• The recommended thermostat setting in winter is 68 F while you’re
at home and 58 F while you’re asleep or away from home for four or
more hours.
• In the cooling season, the recommended setting for your thermostat
is 15 F below the outside temperature. Never set it below 78 F.
Exceptions to recommended thermostat settings
Seniors, infants and people with certain
medical conditions may need different
temperature settings in order to avoid
hypothermia or heat stress.
Hypothermia is a lowering of the body
temperature below 95 F which causes
the heart to slow down or stop beating.
During winter, room temperatures below
70 F might be too cold for some people
and cause hypothermia.
Heat stress is an increase in the internal body temperature to an
abnormally high temperature, possibly leading to heat exhaustion or
heat stroke. During summer, heat stress can occur when temperatures
stay 85 F or above.
Ask your doctor for recommended thermostat settings to avoid these
health risks.
6
Keep warm in winter
and cool in summer
You don’t need to change the
temperature setting on your
thermostat to keep yourself
comfortable. These steps will save
energy and help you stay comfortable
in any weather.
How to stay warm
• Wear several layers of mediumweight clothes rather than one
heavy layer. Wool or wool blends
are warmer than polyester knits. Stay warm indoors by wearing
flannel shirts, sweaters, insulated underwear and socks. Surprisingly, if our hands and feet are cold indoors, wearing a scarf and hat
will keep them warmer than wearing socks and mittens. The reason
is simple: 40 percent or more of your body’s heat is lost through
your head and neck.
• Keep chairs away from cooler outside walls and windows so you
won’t be tempted to turn up the thermostat.
• Keep drapes, furniture, and floor coverings from blocking heat and
cold air return registers, radiators or space heaters.
• Open window coverings on the sunny side of your home. Let the
sunlight give you “free heat.” Close window coverings on cloudy
days or as soon as the sun sets.
• Close your fireplace damper when the fireplace is not in use.
• Eat nutritious foods and drink warm, non-alcoholic beverages.
• Tighter sealing of your home, with adequate ventilation, can
eliminate the need to add humidity by preventing warm, moist air
from escaping through cracks. Too much humidity in your home in
cold weather can cause serious damage to walls and windows. It
can also cause mold to grow, which can be a health hazard for you
and your family. If you have questions about the correct humidity
level for your home, call us at the number on page 50.
• Use your bathroom fan when showering or bathing. Use your
kitchen fan when cooking.
• Use several light blankets to trap warm air – this will give more
comfort than one heavy cover.
WARNING: Do not use your gas oven as an extra heater. Doing so can
be dangerous.
How to stay cool
• Wear light, loose-fitting clothes made of fabrics that “breathe.”
Cotton is cooler than synthetic fabrics like nylon and polyester.
• Create breezes through your
home by opening 25 percent
more windows on the
downwind or hot side of the
house than on the upwind
or cool side.
• Avoid using your air
up-wind
down-wind
conditioner unnecessarily.
A fan uses very little electricity
compared to an air conditioner.
• To cool a single room have a fan draw cool outside air into the
room at night.
• Close window coverings on the sunny side of your home to keep
out heat from the sun.
7
8
2. SEALING YOUR HOME
• Avoid causing unnecessary
heat and humidity indoors.
Schedule chores such as
baking, clothes drying, ironing,
and dishwashing in the early
morning or late evening hours.
Use kitchen and bathroom
exhaust fans to remove
moisture and heat from the
air. Avoid extra humidity by
hanging wet clothes outside.
Cook summer meals on top
of the range, not in the oven.
Better yet, cook outdoors on
a grill.
• Take cool showers or baths to reduce your body temperature and
help avoid heat stress. Water will absorb your body’s heat better
than air.
• Get plenty of rest and sleep. You can handle the discomfort better if
you’re well rested.
• Avoid heavy meals and drink plenty of cool liquids. Water or nonalcoholic beverages are best. Avoid stimulants such as coffee or tea.
Why sealing your home can save you money
There are many
cracks and gaps
around your doors
and windows and
throughout your
home. In the
heating season,
these openings let
warm air leak out
and cold air leak
in. In the cooling
season, they let
cool air out and
hot humid air in. Homeowners and renters are often unaware of the
many spaces where treated air can escape.
• If you add together all the small cracks and gaps in your home,
you might find they equal the size of a 2 by 2-foot hole in your wall.
• A leaky home can cost up to 40 percent more to heat or cool.
Sealing your home is economical because the materials cost relatively
little. Homeowners can do most sealing themselves by getting the
materials at a hardware store and by following the directions given
on the package or in this book.
Sealing the inside of your home first is the best method to use. You can
seal inside during any time of the year. And sealing from the inside
will keep as much heat as possible exactly where you want it – inside
in winter and outside in summer. The best place to start is in the attic
or upper floors.
9
10
• Seal the tops of the walls at each end of
Sealing the attic
When sealing air leaks in your home it is important to start in the attic
or upper level. Because warm air rises, it moves into the attic during
cold weather. Air leaks in the attic are known as attic bypasses. They
can cut the effectiveness of attic insulation by 30 to 70 percent, can
allow moisture to enter the attic where it can damage ceiling and
insulation and cause ice dams on the roof.
subfloor
attic floor
your attic by stuffing insulation into
them. Also stuff insulation into the
tops of any walls (such as a bathroom
wall near the plumbing vent) that are
not blocked off by a board.
• If you have an expansion attic as
shown on the right, stuff insulation
into the area between the bottom of
the kneewall and the attic subfloor.
knee wall
• You may find openings over dropped
floor joist
• Caulk small openings in the attic subfloor where pipes, wires, etc.
enter the attic. For larger gaps use stuffing material such as void
filler or unfaced fiberglass insulation. (Before using either of these
materials, see pages 33-34.)
• Seal the gap around your metal flue or
masonry chimney with a metal flue collar
or with sheet metal. You can purchase the
necessary materials at a hardware store.
You’ll need roofing nails and tin snips to
complete the project. Also buy heat-resistant
caulk to seal the edges of the metal flue
collar or sheet metal.
• Caulk around the attic door (or trap) frame
where it meets the wall or ceiling. Weatherstrip and insulate the door (or trap), too.
Use vinyl V-strip for your attic door or
foam weather-stripping for your trap door
(see page 34).
11
metal
flue
metal flue
collar
ceilings above kitchens, bathrooms
and closets. Nail a sheet of plastic
over these openings at the attic
subfloor level. Seal the edges of
the plastic sheet with caulk.
knee wall
attic
floor
attic subfloor
NOTE:
• Recessed lights, especially older ones,
can leak air from your home into the attic.
They can also be a fire hazard in insulated
ceilings. Do not try to insulate
or build an enclosure over
recessed lights without first
having them checked by an
electrical inspector.
Expansion attic
floor joist
• If you have an unfloored attic,
walk on the floor joists or lay
a board over the joists as
shown above.
plastic sheeting
recessed light
• Do not seal roof vents or any
other ventilation openings
from the attic to the outside.
12
How to weatherstrip a door with vinyl V-strip
Sealing doors
Doors leading to the outside or to
any unheated area (such as a porch
or attic) should be sealed to reduce
cold drafts and heat loss.
Materials for weatherstripping a door with vinyl V-strip include: a damp
rag, scissors, and about 17 feet of vinyl V-strip weatherstripping.
Weatherstripping doors
Weatherstripping is the material
used to fill the gap between the door
and the door frame so less
air leaks in and out. You may already
have weatherstripping on your door
frame. If you can feel cold air
coming in, the weatherstripping
needs to be repaired
or replaced.
1. Clean the door frame with a
damp rag. Allow it to dry.
V-strip
A common type of weatherstripping is called V-strip. When V-strip is
put on the door frame, the V widens to fill the gap between the door
frame and the door.
If you already have metal V-strip on your door frame, check to see if
the V looks flattened or if the metal looks dull. The metal should be
shiny from rubbing against the door. If it looks flattened or dull, use a
putty knife or screwdriver to widen the V so it fills the gap between
the door and the door frame.
If the metal has no spring left, you should replace it. For a temporary
solution, vinyl V-strip, which has a sticky backing on one side, is an option.
It works like the metal V-strip but it’s relatively inexpensive and
easier to apply. Vinyl V-strip is available at most
hardware stores.
2. Hold the weatherstripping up
to the door frame to measure
it. Using scissors, cut the vinyl
V-strip into three sections –
one to fit each side of the
door frame and one to fit
the top.
3. Fold each strip in half along
the pre-scored center with the
paper backing facing out.
4. You will need to trim the ends
of the V-strip that will meet at
the corners of the door frame
(see illustration). Using
scissors, cut the non-sticky
backed side of the V-strip at
a 45-degree angle. This angle
will allow the two non-sticky
backed sides of the V-strip to
meet at the corner without
overlapping.
5. Peel the paper off the
sticky backing.
13
14
6. Put the weatherstripping on the door frame close to the doorstop so
the door presses against the V-strip when closed. The creased side
of the V should face in for doors that open in and face out for doors
that open out. Wherever possible, put the weatherstripping along
the entire length of the door in one piece.
How to put on a metal doorsweep
Materials for putting on a metal doorsweep include: a hacksaw,
scissors, a screwdriver, and a file.
1. Put the doorsweep on the outside of a door that opens out and on
the inside of a door that opens in.
7. After you have finished applying the V-strip, make sure the door
closes tightly and there is no air leaking at the corners of the door
or at the lock plate.
2. Hold the doorsweep against the door, centering it so a screw hole is
very close to each edge of the door. Make sure the doorsweep
covers the entire width of the door.
3. Use a pencil to mark the door where the screw hole will be.
Draw lines on the doorsweep to mark the edges of the door.
Doorsweeps
A doorsweep is a strip of
material fastened to the
bottom of your door. It
helps stop air from leaking
in and out of your home. A metal doorsweep with
three pieces of rubber at the bottom of your door
is one of the best types. If you cannot screw a
metal doorsweep onto your door, there are sticky
back types which only need to be cut and
pressed into place.
4. Slide the rubber piece away from the end of the doorsweep. Use a
hacksaw to cut through the metal. Make the cuts on the pencil lines
that you drew in step 3. You may want to file down the rough edges
so they aren’t sharp.
Doorsweep
15
NOTE: Be careful not to bend the doorsweep as you saw it. Work on a flat surface.
16
Caulking doors
5. Slide the rubber piece back into place. On the edge of the door
nearest to the doorknob, cut the rubber at an angle so it extends
beyond the edge of the door. The angled piece of rubber will help
block air leaks at the corner of the door. On the hinged edge of the
door, cut the rubber straight so the door can be opened and
closed freely.
6. If the door you are putting the doorsweep on is made of solid wood
or metal, you might have to drill holes for the screws.
7. Hold the doorsweep against the bottom of the door so the
doorsweep touches the floor, and put the screws halfway in, but do
not tighten them yet.
Air can leak into your home
where the door frame meets the
inside wall and where the
threshold meets the floor. Caulk
is the material used to fill a crack
or hole so less air leaks in and
out. Use caulk to seal any cracks
around the frame of the door.
(For information on how to
caulk, see pages 31-33.)
Other ideas for doors
• A door held open for just a few
seconds lets in a lot of cold or
warm air. Say your “hellos” and
“goodbyes” behind closed doors!
• Use tape or rope caulk (see page 29) to seal unused
keyholes on doors that lead to the outside or to
unheated areas.
• Keep doors to the outside and to unheated areas firmly
closed. Teach your children to close doors too.
NOTE: The screw holes on the doorsweep are shaped to adjust the doorsweep
up or down.
8. With the screws halfway in, adjust the doorsweep to make certain
the door opens freely and the doorsweep covers the space between
the door and the floor or threshold.
9. Tighten the screws.
17
18
Sealing windows
Using caulk to seal windows and
window frames
In winter, you may feel chilled when you stand near a window, or you
may see frost on the inside of a storm window. This means cold air is
leaking in and warm moist air is leaking out. By sealing windows, you
can reduce air leaks and cut energy costs.
Whatever type of windows you
have, you can seal them with rope
caulk or a clear removable caulk.
Put the caulk into the areas where
the window meets the window
frame. If you have sliding
windows or double hung
windows, make sure to put caulk
into the areas where the two
windows meet in the middle.
(For information on caulk,
see pages 29-33).
There are three basic types of windows:
• Sliding windows move from side to side
in the window frame.
• Casement windows swing open and shut
on hinges.
• Double hung windows slide windows up
and down. They are the most common
type of window found in older homes.
Sliding window
Whatever method you use to seal the movable parts of your windows,
you should also make sure to caulk any joints or cracks on the
window frame itself and where the window frame meets the inside
wall. Don’t forget the top and bottom of the window frame.
What type of windows do you have?
Weatherstripping windows
Casement window
If you have casement windows or double hung windows,
weatherstripping them with vinyl V-strip is an option. Unlike
removable caulks, weatherstripping allows you to open and
close your windows without first removing the sealing material.
Note: Vinyl V-strip is a quick, inexpensive treatment but is temporary and works
best in areas that are rarely used.
Double hung window
19
20
How to weatherstrip a double-hung window with vinyl V-strip
Materials for weatherstripping a doublehung window with vinyl V-strip include:a
damp rag, scissors, and about 12 feet of
vinyl V-strip.
1. Clean the window frame with a damp
rag. Allow it to dry.
2. Cut four pieces of vinyl V-strip – one
for the bottom of the window, one for
the sash where the top and bottom
windows meet, and one for each side
of the bottom window. Cut the pieces
for the two sides a few inches longer
than the height of the bottom
window. This will keep the edge of
the V-strip from catching when you
move the window up and down.
6. Raise the bottom window all the way
up. Peel the paper off the strip that
will go on the side of the window.
Leave an extra few inches of the paper
at the top of the strip, so you can slide
the strip up past the middle sash. Then
slide the papered part of the V-strip up
the side of the window past the middle
sash. Stick the weatherstripping onto
the channel. The creased part of the
V should face in.
7. Once the V-strip is in place, lower the
window all the way and peel off the
paper at the top of the strip. Then
press the extra inches into place.
8. Repeat steps 6 and 7 for the other
side of the window.
3. Fold the strips in half with the paper
backing facing out.
9. If your top window slides down, cut
three pieces of V-strip. Put them on the
two sides and the top of the window.
4. Peel the paper off the V-strip for
the bottom of the window. Stick the
strip on the bottom of the window
sash with the creased part of the V
facing in.
10. Check to make sure the window opens
and closes easily and no air leaks
through the moving parts of the
windows.
5. Peel the paper off the V-strip that
will fit where the top and bottom
windows meet. Raise the bottom
window a few inches so you can
reach behind the top of it. Stick
the V-strip to the back of the
middle sash. The creased part
of the V should face down.
21
How to weatherstrip a casement
window with vinyl V-strip
You can weatherstrip casement windows
with vinyl V-strip – just as you would
weatherstrip a door (see pages 13-15).
Note that you will need a fourth piece
of vinyl V-strip for the bottom of the
window.
22
Using window coverings to help seal windows
Windows are the coldest surfaces in most homes.
Warm ceiling air moves down the windows and back
into your room as cold air. You can avoid this if your
window coverings fit tightly on all four sides. You can
use heavy drapes, plastic, or insulated shades or inserts
to cover your windows. Remember, however, that
sealing the window first with weatherstripping and
caulk will improve the efficiency of any window
covering. Window coverings installed over leaky or
inefficient windows can cause ice to form on windows.
Hang heavy or lined drapes so
they rest on the windowsill or
hang all the way to the floor. Use
safety pins to pin the drapes
together in the center, tape them
to the walls at the sides, and place
a box valance at the top. If you
have shades, pull them down so
they rest on the windowsill. Be
sure your drapes do not cover
heat and cold air return registers,
radiators or space heaters.
Another way to cover your window is to attach plastic over the
window and window frame on the inside of your home. You can use
clear plastic sheets and tacks. Or you can apply a heat-sensitive
plastic film using tape and a hair dryer. However, do not use window
coverings as a “cure” for condensation problems. The best way to
reduce condensation is to reduce the sources of moisture and to run
bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans while bathing or cooking.
23
There are many kinds of insulated shades or inserts to choose
from. When you shop for insulated window coverings, look for
these features:
• ease of use
• tight edge seals
• fire resistant material
• a vapor barrier
• high R-value (resistance to heat loss)
Note: As you read about window coverings and water heater blankets (see
page 38), you will see the term “R-value.” R-value means resistance to heat
loss. The higher the R-value, the more resistant the material is to heat loss.
Building materials like glass and wood have low R-values; insulating materials
like polyester fill and fiberglass have high R-values. Be sure to ask your
salesperson about the R-value of any insulating material you buy.
Other ideas for windows
• Replace or repair the glass on a broken or cracked window. To repair,
use glazing tape or freezer tape. Both are available at your hardware
store. Clear nail polish spread on the crack also works.
• Lock your windows for a better seal against air leaks. Be sure
storm windows are also shut tightly.
• Your windowpanes should fit tightly in place. If they are loose,
you need to putty them. Window putty (commonly called glazing
compound) is available at your hardware store.
• Open window coverings on the sunny side of your home to let
sunlight warm your home in winter. Close them on cloudy days or
as soon as the sun sets.
24
• Caulk where the dryer vent
• Close window coverings to
meets the outside wall or rim
joist (the board that sits on
top of the foundation).
keep out heat from the sun
in summer.
• Cover the pulley holes on
• Caulk cracks in the rim joist.
your double hung windows
in one of the following ways:
• Caulk the top and bottom of
– Use rope caulk to form a
patty. Press the patty over the entire pulley opening (see page 29).
– Or use permanent pulley seals that allow the window to open
and close. These are available at your hardware store.
the rim joist (where it meets
the floor above it and the
foundation).
• Caulk cracks in the
foundation.
Sealing the basement
• Seal any openings at the top
of the foundation blocks.
• Caulk cracks between the window
frame and foundation.
• Caulk openings in the basement
ceiling around pipes, wires, etc.
For larger gaps, use stuffing
materials such as void filler or
unfaced fiberglass insulation
(see pages 33-34).
Sealing other areas on
the inside of your home
rim joist
floor
joist
• Buy foam gaskets at the
hardware store and put them
behind your electrical outlet
and light switch plates. Put
the removable inserts of the
electrical outlet gaskets
behind your safety caps. The
safety caps can be put into
unused electrical outlets to
plug air leaks.
• Seal the gap around the metal flue
or masonry chimney with a metal
flue collar or with sheet metal.
You can purchase the necessary
materials at a hardware store.
You’ll need roofing nails and tin
snips to complete the project.
Also buy heat-resistant caulk.
You’ll need it to seal the edges
of the metal flue collar or sheet
metal. Do not allow insulation
to contact the metal flue.
25
• Caulk the cracks where the
metal
flue
collar
basement meets the wall
and floor.
metal
flue
26
• Caulk around your window
wall air conditioner.
• On kitchen and bathroom
fans, caulk the enclosure
to the ceiling and frame.
• Caulk around pipes and
electrical conduits that
go through the ceiling.
• Seal cracks and plug
holes in your walls.
• Caulk the cracks around
pipes from a sink or toilet
that go through the wall.
• If you use your fireplace,
close the damper tightly
when it’s not in use.
• Caulk where the fireplace
meets the wall.
27
Sealing the
outside of your
home
• Caulk the tops of
windows and doors (drip
caps) next to siding.
• Caulk where the window
and door frames meet
the siding.
• Caulk any openings for
utility outlets, outside faucets, vents, fans, or anything else that
enters your home through the outside wall.
• Caulk where the siding meets at the corners of the house.
• Caulk the gap between the foundation and the house.
• Caulk where storm windows meet the window frame, except for
the small drain holes at the bottom of the storm window. If you
plan to remove your storm windows in summer, use weatherstripping or removable caulk – not permanent caulk. If you never
plan to remove your storm windows, permanent caulk is best.
28
• Clear removable caulk comes in a pressurized tube or in a tube for
Caulk and other
sealing materials
use with a caulk gun. Use it where you would use permanent caulk
and leave it in place, or use it around windows and remove it at any
time. Once removed, it cannot be reused.
Before you buy materials for
sealing your home, consider
which materials and how much of
each you will need, their cost, and
how easy they will be to install.
Types of caulk – permanent
The following caulks come in a tube. You will need a caulk gun to
apply most caulks. Ask your salesperson for a demonstration of how
to operate a caulk gun or see pages 31-33.
Caulk
For most of the cracks and gaps in your home, caulk will be the best
sealer. When you buy caulk, remember, the cheapest isn’t always the
best. Always read the label of the caulk carefully and consider where
you will be putting it. If you use it on the chimney, on heating ducts,
or on any other heat-producing surface, be sure it can withstand
temperatures up to 400 F. If you want to paint over the caulk, be sure
the label says it is paintable. Also be sure to buy caulk that will stick
to the surface where you plan to use it.
Types of caulk – removable
The following caulks can be left in place or removed:
• Rope caulk is like children’s modeling clay. You
can press it into the gaps around windows
or into hard-to-reach places where a tube of
caulk won’t fit. If it is still clean and flexible
when you remove it, you can store it in a
plastic bag for later use.
Rope caulk
Latex/acrylic caulk
•
•
•
•
•
lower priced
paintable
cleans up with water
• lasts approximately 2 to 5 years
• forms a hard surface when dry
• more suitable for indoor use
available in white and other colors
not suitable for heat-producing surfaces
Siliconized latex/acrylic caulk
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
medium priced
paintable
• lasts approximately 20 years
• cleans up with water
slight flexibility when dry
average resistance to moisture
available in clear, white and other colors
not suitable for heat-producing surfaces
suitable for indoor and outdoor use
• Press-in-place caulk comes pre-shaped and
sticks to most surfaces. You can use it where
permanent tube caulk is used. It will last for up
to 20 years. Once removed, it cannot be reused.
Press-in-place caulk
29
30
3. Place the tube of caulk into the caulk gun.
Silicone caulk
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
higher priced
usually not paintable
• lasts approximately 20 years
• solvent needed for clean-up
good flexibility when dry
higher resistance to moisture
suitable for heat-producing surfaces only if rated to 400 F
available in clear, white and other colors
suitable for indoor and outdoor use
How to caulk with a caulk gun
4. Turn the plunger rod so the teeth face down. Push the plunger
back in, up against the bottom of the tube of caulk, until the teeth
catch on the caulk gun.
Materials for caulking with a caulk gun include: a damp rag, a bar of
soap, a putty knife, a nail, a caulk gun, and a tube of caulk.
5. Cut off the tip of the tube at about a 45° angle. The nozzle is
tapered so the amount of the tip you cut off will determine
whether you have a thin or thick bead of caulk.
1. Use a putty knife to remove dirt, loose paint
and old caulk. Then clean the surface with a
damp rag to make sure the new caulk can
stick. Allow it to dry.
2. Turn the plunger rod of the caulk gun so the
teeth face up. Pull the rod out as far as it
will go.
31
6. Use a long nail to break the seal inside the caulk tube (and to
plug the nozzle when you want to store leftover caulk).
32
7. Hold the caulk gun at a 45-degree angle to the surface and pull
the trigger, keeping a steady pressure on it.
sure that the caulk seals the crack from edge to
edge. Do not use void filler around heatproducing surfaces.
Void filler
• Unfaced fiberglass insulation is a fluffy material that
is normally used for insulating. It can also be used
to seal gaps that are too large for caulking or that
are unevenly shaped. Tightly roll the fiberglass and
stuff it snugly into the top of the gap. Always wear
gloves and a dust mask when using fiberglass.
8. Push the gun away from you in order to push the caulk into the
crack. Try to finish a seam in one stroke without stopping.
9. Make sure the caulk covers both sides of the crack. This will give
you a good seal.
• Foam weatherstripping is a spongy strip of
10. If the label recommends smoothing the caulk, use a wet finger
(watch out for splinters) or the edge of a bar of soap.
11. Wipe off any excess caulk with a wet rag.
12. Practice caulking in areas that won’t show, such as the top of
window frames or in the attic.
Other materials for sealing
• Void filler is used for large, even cracks. It is a rod-shaped spongy
material with sticky backing on one side.
Use it mainly to seal where one surface
presses against another, such as an attic
trap door. It is best suited for areas that
are rarely used.
Foam
weatherstripping
• A metal flue collar is used to seal the gap
around your metal flue. Sheet metal is
used to seal the gap around your masonry
chimney. You will need roofing nails and
tin snips to install these materials. You
can purchase the materials at your
hardware store. Also, buy heat-resistant
caulk. You’ll need it to seal the edges of
the metal flue collar or sheet metal.
metal
flue
collar
material that comes in 3/8-inch, 1/2-inch and 5/8-inch diameters.
Put the void filler snugly into the crack and caulk over it making
metal flue
33
34
3. APPLIANCES
Your heating system probably
accounts for more than 70 percent
of your energy use, your water
heater for more than 15 percent.
Using these and other appliances
wisely can cut your energy costs.
• Install plastic deflectors on warm
air registers that are located near
windows. This will help direct
warm air into the room.
• Use duct sealant or foil duct tape
to seal air leaks in heating ducts
that run through unheated areas
of your home.
Anytime you are considering
purchasing a new appliance,
consider an energy-efficient
ENERGY STAR® qualified model.
See page 47.
• Make sure any water pipes in these
areas won’t freeze by installing pipe
insulation.
Heating system
Cooling system
• Keep heat and cold air return
• Install your window air conditioner
registers free of dust and do not
block with carpet or furniture so
warm air can flow freely.
on the north or shady side of the
house.
• Seal gaps around the air
• Clogged furnace filters on forced
conditioner to keep summer heat
from entering and winter warmth
from leaving your home.
air systems cut heat flow and make
furnaces run longer. Clean or change
the filters regularly (once a month is
recommended during the heating
season).
• In the fall, use an air conditioner
• Place materials that reflect, like
aluminum foil, behind radiators with
the shiny side toward the room to
send heat back into the room. To
work best, there should be a gap
between the wall and the material.
Setting things on top of or in front
of radiators will slow the flow of
heat into the room.
• Bleed radiators as necessary. It will
35
keep your heating system working
more efficiently.
Furnace filters
cover and/or styrofoam insulation
to cover the outside of the unit.
This will prevent heat from
escaping through the unit during
the winter months.
• Change or clean filters when dirty.
• If you can, vacuum the coils and
cooling fins on the outside of the
air conditioner.
Note: Be sure to turn off your air
conditioner before cleaning it.
36
• Keep drapes or furniture away from your air conditioner, allowing
the air to flow freely.
• Avoid cooling an empty house. Install a programmable/setback
thermostat for central air conditioners or a timer designed for room
air conditioners.
• Avoid cooling rooms that you don’t use often.
• Use extra fans to improve the circulation of your air conditioner.
Water heater and
hot water pipes
• Repair leaky hot water faucets. A
leak that fills a coffee cup in ten
minutes wastes 3,280 gallons of
water in a year. The cost of heating
this water is over $15 per year.
• Turn down the temperature setting
on your water heater. Doing so is
one of the best ways to cut energy
costs. Hot water can cause serious
scalding, especially to small
children and the elderly. To reduce
the danger, set the water heater
temperature at 120 F or less. On
most water heaters, that will be the
“low” setting on the water heater
thermostat. You can also measure
the water temperature at a faucet
with a thermometer. Whenever you
are away for vacations, turn the
temperature control to the lowest
setting.
37
• Wrap your water heater. If your water heater is
in an unheated area, you may want to wrap it
with a water heater blanket. Water heater
blankets are relatively inexpensive, easy to
install, and available at most hardware stores.
A blanket with an R-value (resistance to heat
loss) of R-6 is your best value. Follow these
guidelines for wrapping your gas water heater.
Water heaters in a heated area will not benefit
substantially from a water heater blanket.
– Follow the manufacturer’s installation
instructions.
– Do not cover the top of the water heater.
– Trim the bottom of the water heater blanket
so it does not cover any part of the door that
leads to the burner.
This space must
be at least 6".
– Trim the blanket around the temperature
control dial.
– Tape down all edges.
• Wrap your hot water pipes. If your water heater
is located in a heated area, wrap the hot water
pipe leading away from it for about ten feet. In
an unheated area, wrap the entire length of any
hot water pipes. Preformed foam pipe wrap
comes in various pipe sizes. It is available at
most hardware stores, and is easy to install.
Note: As a safety precaution, keep the pipe wrap 6
inches away from the gas water heater flue.
38
• Reduce hot water use by doing
Kitchen range
the following:
– A short shower uses about
half as much hot water as
the average tub bath. Limit
shower time and use an
energy-saving, low-flow
shower head, or install a
flow restrictor. These items
are available at most
hardware stores.
Range top
– Many laundry detergents can
be used in cold water, and
you can always use cold
water for rinsing. Use warm
water only when necessary.
• Clean the reflector pans under
• Whenever possible, save
energy by using the range
top rather than the oven.
• Select the right pan size for the
amount of food you’re cooking.
Keep the flame centered under
the pan so the flame does not
curl around the side of the pan.
the burners regularly. Clean reflectors help focus heat.
• Keep the bottoms of your pots clean and shiny. Shiny pots help
focus heat better than dull, soiled pots do.
• Thaw frozen foods in the refrigerator before cooking them. Doing
– Run the dishwasher only
when you have a full load.
so will save energy and help reduce the risk of food poisoning.
• Cook with covers on pots and pans whenever possible.
– Use a dishpan to wash
dishes if doing them by
hand. Don’t leave the hot
water running.
– Install an aerator on the
end of your kitchen faucet.
Doing so will reduce your
hot water use by as much
as 50 percent.
• Limit the amount of water used for cooking. When food begins to
boil, lower the flame to maintain a gentle boil or simmer. Food
doesn’t cook any faster with a rolling boil.
Washer
Disc
Aerator
screen
Aerator
Body
– Don’t run hot water while
shaving or brushing
your teeth.
39
40
Oven
• Cook as many things as possible
at one time.
• Bake more than one recipe and
freeze the extra for later use.
• Try not to peek. Opening the oven
door can reduce the temperature
by as much as 50 F.
• Just before food has finished
cooking, turn off the oven. The
heat inside will finish the cooking.
• Most foods don’t need a preheated oven. For breads and baked
goods, preheat for about 7 minutes with the oven setting at the
exact temperature required for baking.
• Broilers do not require preheating. Keep the door closed
while broiling.
• Never use aluminum foil to line the
bottom of the oven. It could block
vents, reducing air circulation and
oven temperatures. If you wish, line
the oven rack with foil, leaving a
1-inch space on all sides.
WARNING: Do not turn on your gas oven
and open the door to heat a room. When
used for normal cooking, oven burners
cycle on and off. If you leave the door open
even a little with the oven on, the burner
will run continuously. This can cause
carbon monoxide to build up, which
can be a threat to your health.
Clothes washer
• Wash full loads of clothes. A half load uses almost as much energy
as a full load. Match wash time, cycle and water level to the
clothes load.
• Follow detergent instructions carefully.
• Presoak stained clothing so that you can shorten the wash cycle.
Clothes dryer
• Vent your clothes dryer to the outside. This will prevent combustion
products, excess moisture, and small bits of detergent and lint from
entering your home.
• Check outside to make sure your
dryer vent flap is clear of lint so it can
close tightly when the dryer is off.
• Clean the dryer lint screen before
each load. A clogged lint screen slows
down the circulation of warm air and
increases drying time.
• If your dryer has an electronic sensor
or an automatic drying control, use it
instead of timed drying. This will help
you avoid overdrying. Overdrying
wastes energy and causes clothes to
wrinkle and wear out faster.
• Separate clothes by weight. Lightweight fabrics require less
drying time.
• Dry full loads but don’t overload. Excessively large loads take
longer and use more energy.
• Whenever possible, dry several loads one after another. It takes less
energy to bring the dryer to the required temperature each time.
41
42
Refrigerator/freezer
• Keep your refrigerator and
freezer full to avoid letting
warm air enter when you
open the doors. Bottles of
water in the refrigerator
and ice cubes in the freezer
reduce the amount of air
space. Remember, it takes
more energy to keep air
cold than to keep food cold.
Don’t pack your refrigerator
or freezer too full, though.
Some air needs to circulate
to keep the food cold.
• Open the refrigerator or freezer door only when necessary and for
as short a time as possible.
• Allow space around the outside of the refrigerator for good
air circulation.
• Defrost the freezer before ice builds up
to 1/4-inch thick. Ice on the freezer wall
insulates the compartment from the
cooling element, making the unit
run longer.
• Keep your refrigerator between 37 F
and 40 F and your freezer at about
0 F. If the dial reads “Hi, Medium, Low,”
test the temperature with an outdoor or refrigerator thermometer.
Cold milk and frozen ice cream are also good indicators.
• Keep the seals (gaskets) of the doors clean and replace them
if necessary.
• Some refrigerators have an anti-sweat heater designed to keep the
walls on the outside of the refrigerator dry during humid weather.
Since you won’t need it most of the year, turn off the heater (the
switch is inside the refrigerator). If the switch says “power-miser”
or “energy-saver” turn the switch on to turn the heater off. If it says
“dry/humid” make sure it is set on “dry.” When moisture appears on
the outside of the refrigerator, turn on the heater until the humid
weather is over.
• Cover liquids. Uncovered liquids add humidity to the refrigerator
and make it work longer.
• Defrost frozen food in the refrigerator. The frozen food will help
cool the refrigerator and save energy.
• Keep the refrigerator running efficiently by cleaning the condenser
coils occasionally. The condenser coils are located at the back or
bottom of the refrigerator.
NOTE: Be sure to unplug the refrigerator before you vacuum or clean the
condenser coils.
Dishwasher
• Run the dishwasher only when it is full.
• Scrape rather than rinse dishes before loading them. If rinsing is
required, use a dishpan and cold water.
• If your dishwasher has a filter, check it often to be sure it isn’t
clogged with food.
• Open the dishwasher door prior to the drying cycle to let the dishes
air dry.
• Use the proper amount of detergent. Too much or too little
detergent will reduce cleaning efficiency.
• If you have a choice, use a shorter cycle with fewer fills of water.
43
44
• Follow the manufacturer’s loading suggestions for the greatest
efficiency.
• When shopping for a dishwasher, look for an energy efficient model
that has a water temperature booster. This heats water right at the
dishwasher and allows you to keep your water heater setting
lower – at 120 F instead of 140 F.
• Concentrate lighting in reading and working areas and where it’s
needed for safety. When possible, replace bulbs with bulbs of the
next lower wattage. However, for areas that need a great deal of
light, one large wattage bulb will give more light than several
smaller wattage bulbs. Dirt absorbs light, so keep lamps and
bulbs clean.
Other energy users in your home
• Always turn off lights, TV sets, VCRs, DVD players and radios when
rooms are vacant. These appliances also generate unwanted heat in
the summer.
• If you have an “instant-on” TV, unplug it when you go away for the
weekend or on vacation. This type of TV uses energy whenever it’s
plugged in.
• Limit the use of portable heaters to temporary heating – only when
someone is in the room.
• Use cold water rather than hot water to operate your food disposal.
Grease becomes solid in cold water and will move through pipes
easier. Grease in hot water
sticks to the cold surfaces
of pipes.
• Empty vacuum cleaner bags
frequently to increase vacuum
cleaner efficiency. Change
disposable bags before they
get too full.
45
• Consider using traditional or compact fluorescent light bulbs in
kitchens, bathrooms and work areas. They are four times more
efficient than incandescent bulbs.
• Consider using dimmers or high / low switches. They save energy.
• When buying an appliance, remember that it has two price tags:
what you pay to take it home and what you pay for the energy
and water it uses.
– Look for the yellow EnergyGuide label found on most
appliances. This label allows you to compare the yearly
operating costs of different models.
– Look for appliances and electronics
with the ENERGY STAR® label.
ENERGY STAR qualified appliances
incorporate advanced technologies that
use 10 to 15 percent less energy and
water than standard models. The money
you save on your utility bills can more
than make up for the cost of a more
expensive but more efficient ENERGY
STAR model. To find out which
products qualify, or for more
information, visit www.energystar.gov
or call 888-STAR-YES.
46
4. NATURAL GAS: THE PREMIUM FUEL
Natural gas has many
advantages over other
energy forms used in
American homes. Nearly all
of the natural gas we use in
the United States – 99
percent – comes from North
America, and supplies are
abundant. CenterPoint
Energy does not need to rely
on supplies from overseas;
natural gas is efficiently
transported from North
American gas fields to your
home by pipeline.
There is no need to store
supplies of natural gas at
your home as you would
need to, for example, for wood, coal or oil. And you don’t have to pay
for the gas until after you’ve used it. Natural gas burns cleanly and
completely – it produces no smoke or ash that can cause health
hazards, acid rain, or other environmental problems.
This premium fuel also remains the least expensive energy for most
homes. CenterPoint Energy believes natural gas is, and will remain,
your best energy value. Use it wisely.
5. FOR MORE INFORMATION
Thank you for reading
More Comfort, Less Energy. We hope
you enjoyed it and will use the
ideas to improve your comfort at
home and to reduce the amount of
energy you use.
If you have any questions about
the information covered here,
about other methods of making
your home more energy efficient,
or about CenterPoint Energy,
please contact us.
CenterPoint Energy offers a
variety of energy conservation
programs and free publications
to help you with questions about
natural gas, wise energy use,
appliances, and more. Specially trained representatives are available
to answer your questions Monday through Friday between 7 a.m.
and 6 p.m.
Contact us
Visit our website at CenterPointEnergy.com. Select your region from the
drop-down menu next to Residential. Click on Customer Service and then
on Contact Us.
Call 612-372-4727 or 800-245-2377
Or write
CenterPoint Energy
Energy Answers
PO Box 59038
Minneapolis, MN 55459-0038
47
48
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