Thursday, December 28, 2000

Some steps to warm up your home

By Mike Pulfer
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Still cold? Even after you caulked those cracks ... serviced the furnace ... put up new storm windows? There might be more you can do.

        Here are some tips for last-ditch efforts to keep warm at home, compliments of Cinergy; Enquirer home-energy columnist Jim Dulley; and Gene Carroll, professional Tristate house inspector, lecturer and author.

  Call Cinergy at 421-9500 or go to or (U.S. Department of Energy).
        Some will sound familiar; some might keep your teeth from chattering ... if you can hold the paper steady while you read.

        • Close your drapes when there is no warming sunshine.

        • Cover cracks under doors and around windows with tape and/or foam and removable rope caulk. If you're desperate, use pillows to block cold air.

        • Stay away from windows and exterior walls.

        • Turn ceiling fans on low, to pull warm air up.

        • Close vents to rooms you aren't using.

        • Forgo optimum furniture placement, design-wise, if it means covering a heat register. Watch for drapes that cover registers.

        • Turn up the humidity. If you don't have a humidifier, boil water on the stove or put pans of water on the edges of floor registers.

        • If you take a bath, leave the water in the tub until it is cold. (You can leave.)

        • Use as little water as possi ble. It takes energy to heat to room temperature the cold water that fills your toilet tank.

        • If your furnace or stove quits working, turn off the water supply and call a repairman. If there is a delay, drain water supply lines where you can.

        • Because it's not vented, don't use your natural-gas cooking stove for heat over long periods of time.

        • Pull out the insulated clothing, and try personal warming devices such as microwaveable pillows that can be applied to your back, stomach or neck.

Pocketbook issues
If you hope to save money:

        • Lower the thermostat (65 degrees is adequate for most people), put the cutoffs away and wear layers of warm clothing.

        • Turn down the temperature setting on your gas water heater. A setting of 115 degrees — instead of the typical 145 degrees — will save money and extend the life of the appliance.

In long run
When the current crisis has passed, take a look at some of these options for greater comfort and lesser bills next winter.

        • Add insulation in walls and ceilings, around doors and windows, water pipes, chimneys, television cables, dryer vents, exhaust fans, baseboard moldings, kitchen cabinets and sill plates, where walls meet foundations ($500-$600 for a typical two-story house).

        • Programmable thermostats ($25-$150) can save as much as 20 percent on fuel bills, if you drop the temperature by at least 10 degrees for at least 16 hours a day. Most models will let you automatically reduce the temperature while you're asleep and at work; many will accommodate a schedule change for weekends.

        • If your furnace is near the end of its natural life, consider putting it out of its misery. Some heating bills can be cut 50 percent by weatherizing the house and installing a more efficient furnace (about $3,000).

        • Have furnaces and heat pumps tuned regularly and change furnace filters monthly for peak efficiency.

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