May 292012

Looking for ways to save energy this winter?  The Advance Concept plumbing, heating, and air team has put together this list to help you lower your energy bills.  We also have a special to help you make it happen!  We service Albuquerque, Los Lunas, Placitas, Bernalillo, Rio Rancho, and the entire East Mountain area.  We service and repair and we make emergency calls, residential and commercial.

  • Set your thermostat lower, you will get a 1% savings for every degree you lower your thermostat in the winter.  Install a programmable thermostat.  Mine has a little alarm that flashes when the filter needs to be replaced.
  • Do you have a fireplace?  Unless you have a fire going, keep the damper closed.  And if you use your fireplace, please remember to have the chimney cleaned to avoid chimney fires.  Yes, Advance Concept cleans chimneys too!  Isn’t it nice to know the guys climbing on your roof are licensed and insured?  If you use a wood stove the seals should be checked for wear.  (Yup, we do that too.)
  • Seal those leaks.  Problem areas can be where pipes come into the house, unfinished spaces, mail chutes, where phone and cable lines come into the house, dryer vents and cooling vents.  And don’t forget to caulk or weather strip around leaky doors and windows.  Pick a windy day and hold up a lighter or candle around problem areas.  If the flame flickers, you have air coming in, and in the winter, that’s cold.  Make sure you aren’t heating unoccupied areas of your home like attics, garages, and crawl spaces.  But before you turn off the heat to those areas, be sure there aren’t exposed pipes that could break if they freeze.  Not sure where your pipes are?  Ask your Advance Concept professional to check for you.
  • Water heaters use about 15-25% of our energy bill.  Lowering the temperature to the warm setting (120 degrees) can help reduce that bill by about 8%.  Consider insulating the pipe coming out of the top of the water heater over to where it goes into the wall.  And consider wrapping the hot water heater in jacket insulation.  A properly installed jacket on a gas hot water heater will leave the air intake uncovered.  At around $30, it can pay for itself in a few months.
  • Shorter showers mean big savings.  A few minutes can save a family of four hundreds of gallons of heated water a month.  Cutting the time in half can reduce your energy bill by 33%.  Or compromise with your family and install low flow showerheads.  If you are a Gas Company of NM customer, you are eligible for a rebate, see their web page at:
  • Twice a year (or every other month if you have hard water), drain a bucket of water from your hot water heater storage tank. This removes sediment which absorbs heat energy and results in higher heating costs.
  • If you have south facing windows, open the curtains during the day and let in the heat.  Close the curtains during the night to add extra insulation.  Curtains or drapes hung close to the window have a higher insulating effect.
  • Consider installing energy star windows.  And remember if your home was built before 1978, it may contain lead paint.  Be safe; hire only a certified EPA Lead-Safe RRP firm to do the work.  Are you considering doing the work yourself?  You can take the class too and learn how to protect yourself and your family from the harmful effects of lead.  If you can’t afford new windows yet, put heavy duty clear plastic over drafty windows.
  • Exterior walls can be cold and drafty, consider rearranging the furniture so it is against interior walls.  And while you’re at it, make sure you haven’t blocked the supply or intake ducts for the furnace with furniture.
  • Where is all the wasted energy going in your home?  Turn off lights in unoccupied rooms.  Unplug that spare refrigerator. Advance Concept can install motion detector switches and dimmers on your lights to save energy.  Refrigerators use 10 to 25% of your energy bill, and that old one in the garage probably isn’t Energy Star!  Turn off kitchen and bathroom vent fans when they’ve done their job, they are also blowing out all your heated air.  We can install a timer to do that job for you.  Do only full loads in the dishwasher and washing machine.  Use the coolest water temperature setting that will get the job done and always clean the dryer’s lint trap after every load.  How about sleeping mode for all those computers, monitors, and other electronic equipment?  Turn them off overnight because even sleep mode uses electricity.
  • Insulation.  This author lives in a 50 year old home in Albuquerque.  I was amazed to find there was no insulation in the ceiling.   Insulating the attic was like adding a nice warm cozy blanket to the whole house, and lowered the energy bills about 10%.  Remember, at Advance Concept, estimates are always free and we will make recommendations on what your options are.
  • Seal ducts.  Especially on older homes, have us check your ducts for leaks.
  • Did you know that doors should be insulated too?  If the inside of your door feels colder than the inside wall next to it, it might be time for a new door.
  • Adding some humidity can help you feel warmer in the winter.  Plants and aquariums can add moisture to the air.