Ozark Outdoors

For little cost, these steps can reduce energy bill by 25 Percent

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Average Energy Consumption

Graph show percentage of energy consumption in an average home.

MARSHFIELD, Mo. — With finances tight, everyone seems to be looking to save money this coming winter.

“No one thing will magically cut energy expenses a lot, but attention to many little things can all help add up to greatly-reduced costs,” according to Bob Schultheis, natural resource engineering specialist with University of Missouri Extension.

The place to start is with the biggest energy wasters in the home. In many cases, a person can spend less than $100 and cut their utility bill by at least 25 percent with these basic actions.

First, insulate your water heater if it’s warm to the touch on the outside. “It is also a good idea to turn your water heater down to 120-130 degrees Fahrenheit,” said Schultheis.

Second, weather-strip exterior door and window gaps to reduce heat loss. “A one-eighth inch wide gap around a door is the same as a six-inch diameter hole through it,” says Schultheis.

Third, install foam gaskets under electrical outlet plates on exterior walls and put plastic plugs in unused sockets to reduce cold air invasion.

Fourth, caulk all outside joints where dissimilar materials meet. Use acrylic latex tube caulk and expandable foam to fill the gaps. “Do this is in places like where wood meets masonry and where pipes go through concrete,” said Schultheis.

Fifth, give the home furnace its annual tune-up and change or clean the filter.

Sixth, put tight-fitting doors on fireplaces to slow heat loss.

Seventh, put foil tape or air duct sealant on HVAC metal ductwork joints.

Eighth, check to make sure you have the recommended insulation levels in your home. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the minimum insulation levels for Missouri homes are R-49 in the ceilings, R-18 in walls, and R25 in floors over crawlspaces. Insulation is measured in R-value or resistance to flow of heat. Higher numbers are better.

“When you are making these upgrades, remember, you’re not saving any money until you have recaptured the money you spent to do the energy conservation measure,” says Schultheis.

To contact Bob Schultheis at the MU Extension Center in Webster County at 417-859-2044 or online at extension.missouri.edu/webster.

George Freeman is a veteran journalist and photographer. An award-winning writer, editor and columnist in Springfield, Mo., with more than 50 years experience. His preference is for positive and uplifting stories about people, places, traditions and trends that make the Ozarks one of the most livable regions anywhere. A member of the Garden Writers Association of America, he is a past-president of the Society of Professional Journalists of Southwest Missouri, the Kansas and Ohio AP societies; a board member of Friends of the Garden and a member of the Rotary Club of Springfield. In 1976, he traveled to India as a member of a Rotary Foundation Group Study Exchange Team.

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