Simple Solutions for Saving Energy
LESLIE: Next up is Phyllis, in Tennessee, who’s looking to save some energy dollars. How can we help?
PHYLLIS: Well hi, how are you?
TOM: We’re great.
LESLIE: Great, how about yourself, bubbly?
LESLIE: (chuckling) You’re cold.
PHYLLIS: It’s cold out. You know, it’s getting cold out and I wondered what else can we do, besides space heaters, to keep our homes warm. Do you suggest, maybe, draperies; heavy draperies to cover windows?
TOM: Well, describe your house to us, Phyllis. How old is your house?
PHYLLIS: Oh, the house is behind Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee.
TOM: Okay. (chuckling)
PHYLLIS: And it was built in 1953.
PHYLLIS: And it’s a brick ranch but the windows are old. I think they’re the original windows. And I seem to have a lot of cold coming in through the windows and then the doors.
TOM: Are replacement windows an option for you?
PHYLLIS: No, not at this time.
TOM: Okay. Well, a couple of things you can do. First of all, let’s start with all of the basics. It sounds to me like you’re talking about more drafts than an insulation question. But with a 1953 house, you really want to check that attic. Insulation is inexpensive and you really want to have a good eight to ten inches of insulation up there. As far as the windows, there are a number of things that you can do, one of which is called temporary caulk.
LESLIE: Yeah, this is great. It’s from DAP and it’s called Seal n’ Peel Caulk; and you can use that to actually seal your windows shut if you’re finding that you have a draft coming from where the window is in the track. You can use it to go in there; it’ll seal your window shut but it’ll also seal out those drafts. But important, if you’re going to need, maybe, a window in a room as an exit – just in case you have an emergency – make sure you keep one undone. But also check on the outside of the framework of the windows; where the frame meets the wall. Use some caulk to go in there to seal up all of that.
Think about weather stripping on your door so that when you close your front door, you’re getting a nice, tight seal. Look at your electrical outlets that are on exterior walls and put weather stripping behind those cover plates so you stop drafts coming in there. Think about heavy drapes; yeah.
PHYLLIS: Well, this sounds like something that I can do myself, isn’t it?
TOM: Well, it absolutely is. And the cool thing about Seal n’ Peel is that you caulk it in the winter, now, but then you peel it off in the summer …
LESLIE: In the spring time.
TOM: … and it doesn’t damage your windows.
LESLIE: And it’s clear, so you can’t see it when it’s in there. It’s not like someone will notice.
PHYLLIS: Would it be possible to possibly leave it in the summer because of loss of air conditioning?
TOM: Well, it could but, remember, now you’re not going to be able to use your windows? So we’re trying to keep those windows operational in the summer.
TOM: Alright? But it certainly is an option. And listen …
PHYLLIS: Yeah. It’s very interesting. I could save those winter and summer … if I used that product.
TOM: You could. And listen, Phyllis, if you get … when you can get to it – ready for those replacement windows – remember that you don’t have to do the whole house at once. If you’re concerned about the winter time, you do the north windows first, followed by the east, then the west and the south. If you’re concerned about keeping the sun from getting in and driving up air conditioning costs, then you reverse that; you do the south first then the west, then the east, then the north. But you could do like one side of your house a year; you don’t have to do them all at once. So it … you can manage some of the expenses that way.
PHYLLIS: Yeah, I know. Time is tough. It’s either you’re going to eat or you’re going to keep your house warm.
TOM: I hear you.
LESLIE: Yeah, and that’s a hard decision. But Phyllis, also keep in mind that your utility company that provides your heating source, they will come to your house – you know, they don’t really advertise this – but they’ll come to your house and they’ll check your house for energy efficiency and sort of tell you where your problem areas are. So after you address drafts, they might be able to help you figure out why it is that your house is so chilly.
TOM: Yeah, it’s called an energy audit and many utility companies do them for free.
TOM: Yep. Okay?
PHYLLIS: That’s great … that’s great news.
TOM: Okay, Phyllis. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 1-888-MONEY-PIT end_of_the_skype_highlighting.