TexasIsHot – Energy Efficiency

Air Leaks

Dec 09 2011

5 Things You Can Do Right Now to Heat Up Your Home

It’s hard to believe after survivng the epic summer of 2011, but winter is here. Today saw the first hard freeze of the winter season in Central Texas, where the ground becomes frozen solid and plants die. And folks in Houston (freezing) and Dallas (also freezing) didn’t have it any easier this morning. While you may have just had your AC on last week, chances are you’ve fired your heater by now.

Whether temps are in the 100s or 20s in Texas, there are several things you can do to increase the energy efficiency of your home. There are big-ticket options like energy upgrades or smart thermostats, and some utlilities are encouraging customers to make small DIY improvements that can go a long way towards helping your home stay warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.

Here are five easy upgrades you can do right now, from the Department of Energy:

  1. Find hidden air leaks and stop them. They’re everywhere, especially if you live in an older home: cracks and openings where air leaks in and out, causing higher energy bills and reducing your comfort. By eliminating drafts you can save anywhere from 5 percent to 30 percent on your energy bill annually. The department recommends looking at gaps along baseboards, plumbing, at wall and ceiling joints, and around electrical outlets and light switches. Tools needed? Removable caulk, about $12, or foam sealant, about $7 for a 12-oz. can. Here’s a how-to guide from the Department of Energy.
  2. Seal your windows and doors. Window upgrades can be expensive, but there’s plenty you can do to make your existing windows more efficient. The deparment recommends sealing all windows (see caulk recommendation above) and weather-stripping doors. If you can see light coming through your door, add more insulation. Tools needed? Weather-stripping, about $4.50 for 17 feet.
  3. Change your air filter. All the air for your heating and cooling system passes through a filter to remove dust and other particles. Keeping it clean and replacing it often means less dirt in your system, and a more efficient intake of air. “Generally, you should change them about once every month or two, especially during periods of high usage,” the department recommends. Tools needed? Filters, about $40 for a six-pack.
  4. Turn your lights down low. Lighting makes up about ten percent of your energy bill, and the fixes are easy. Switch to a lower wattage where you can (the department says you may only need 60 or 75 watts instead of the usual 100) and try using compact fluorescent bulbs or LEDs. Tools needed? Varies, but 60 watt CFLs can be found for about a dollar per bulb, and LEDs start at $10, but can last over a decade.
  5. Mind the attic. If your attic access is in the climate controlled part of your house, chances are it may be a source of heat and cooling loss. The department recommends weather stripping the hatch panel, insulating the attic door, and making sure it closes tightly.


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  • "Fluctuating energy costs are really hurting Texas families and businesses, but by just making a few easy changes, Texans can cut down on energy waste. TexasIsHot.org is a tremendous resource which arms consumers with the information they need to save themselves money by becoming more energy efficient, and help our environment." State Sen. Rodney Ellis (D-Houston)
  • "Texas is the third fastest growing state in the nation with a net growth of 1,000 people each and every day. This brings many challenges including providing clean and affordable electricity. That is why I'm excited about TexasIsHot.org. This website is an instructional resource that will help Texans save on their energy bills at home and in the workplace..." State Rep. Phil King (R-Weatherford)
  • "Now, more than ever, Texans need to work together to conserve energy and to make more efficient use of the energy we consume. The TexasIsHot.org website is an extraordinary resource for people who want to save money and help conserve our precious natural resources..." State Rep. Rafael Anchía (D-Dallas)
  • "By partnering with the TexasIsHot Coalition we can extend our effort’s reach, leverage our resources, and ensure that Austin’s energy grid continues to be a test-bed for technologies, products, and services that will transform our state’s energy system." Brewster McCracken, Executive Director, Pecan Street Project
  • "The City of Houston is working harder than ever to make Houston green and energy efficient, but we need the help of every citizen. I would encourage everyone to take a moment to explore the TexasIsHot website to learn what we can all do to make Houston, and the rest of Texas, the green and energy efficient example for the rest of the nation." Mayor Annise Parker, Houston
  • "Energy efficiency is one of our top priorities. Partnering with the TexasIsHot Coalition will help us educate citizens and local businesses about energy-efficient practices in order to meet our goal of reducing residential and commercial electric use." Gavin Dillingham, Chief of Sustainable Growth – General Services Department, for the City of Houston
  • "We are excited about the new partnership that the City of Corpus Christi has entered into with the TexasIsHot Coalition. TexasIsHot.org provides a platform to educate policy makers, city employees and citizens on how to save money and help the environment by conserving energy..." Mayor Joe Adame, Corpus Christi
  • "I am excited that the City of Corpus Christi has joined the TexasIsHot Coalition and look forward to working with them to help Texans become smarter energy users. Energy efficiency is by far the best way for people to reduce their bills and help the environment, but we need education and outreach to make this happen." State Rep. Solomon Ortiz, Jr (D-Corpus Christi)
  • "Because of its fast growth and hot summers, Texas has to get smarter about energy conservation. I applaud the efforts of Corpus Christi and TexasIsHot to help businesses and residents reap the benefits of increased efficiency." Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa (D-McAllen)
  • "Energy efficiency is the cleanest, quickest and cheapest way to get smart about energy use, saving both money and the environment. I applaud the TexasIsHot Coalition in their effort to educate Texans about the benefits of energy efficiency..." Luke Metzger, Director, Environment Texas
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