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Get Ready for Heating Season

A few simple steps can cut your energy bills and make your home more comfortable.

This year’s early frost is a reminder that North Dakota is a cold-climate state.

People have a few simple ways to reduce their energy bills and make their homes more comfortable, according to Carl Pedersen, North Dakota State University Extension Service energy educator.

The warm summers and cold winters have a tendency to wreak havoc on buildings in North Dakota. Building materials can expand and contract with temperature swings. This movement easily can break seals that are meant to keep the conditioned air inside a home. By allowing air leaks to go unsealed, homeowners are letting money escape from their homes.

“Running a fresh bead of caulk around window and doorframes can be an inexpensive way to reduce air leaks,” Pedersen says. “Caulk only costs a few dollars, and a tube will go a long way.”

If your windows are old and replacing them is not in your budget, window films might be a good option. A wide variety of heat-shrink window films that will reduce heat leaks and convection air currents around windows are available.

Convection currents are caused as warm air from a home comes in contact with the cold air next to a window. The air drops and more warm air from the home replaces it. This continuous cycle is what causes the cold, drafty feeling next to a window even though no air may be leaking through the window. Window films create an air pocket between the window and the film, helping keep the cold outside air away from the warm air in a home.

“Insulated window treatments are another great way to save a few dollars on heating bills,” Pedersen says.

Installed properly, quilted or pleated window coverings will create air pockets that can reduce heat loss significantly. The advantage of the window treatments is that they can be opened on the sunny side of the house to allow the sun to add free heat to the home. In the evening when the sun goes down, simply shutting the blinds retains the heat.

The NDSU Extension Service has a program for homeowners to borrow an infrared thermometer to check a home for air leaks and cold spots.

“Using the thermometer, a homeowner can quickly scan a room and determine if there are cold spots around windows and doors, as well getting an idea of the amount of insulation in walls,” Pedersen says.

Homeowners can borrow the infrared thermometers free of charge and pick up a checklist and information on home energy use and savings from county Extension offices. These resources also are available online at http://www.ndsu.edu/energy.

For more information, contact your local county Extension office or Pedersen at (701) 231-5833 or carl.pedersen@ndsu.edu.

NDSU Agriculture Communication - Sept. 16, 2011

Source:Carl Pedersen, (701) 231-5833, carl.pedersen@ndsu.edu
Editor:Ellen Crawford, (701) 231-5391, ellen.crawford@ndsu.edu
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