What else can be done to save on next winter’s home heating oil bills?
This is the second in a 4-part energy conservation series of things you can do around your home to cut your energy bills, including home heating oil, all year round.
Last time we showed you where to look for air leaks on a room-by-room a walk-through of your home. Taking notes along the way, you now know where you may need some caulking and patching to stop air flow in and out of your home.
Next up, is to look at your insulation.
You can lose a lot of heat through your ceilings and walls if the insulation levels are less than the recommended minimum.
Let’s start in the attic. If the attic hatch is located above a conditioned space, check to see if it:
- Is at least as heavily insulated as the attic
- Is weather stripped
- Closes tightly
In the attic itself, determine whether openings for items such as pipes, ductwork, and chimneys are tightly sealed. You should fill any gaps with an expanding foam caulk Caution: When sealing gaps around chimneys or other heat-producing devices, be sure to use a non-combustible sealant.
While in the attic, make sure that the vents are not blocked by insulation. You also should seal any electrical boxes in the ceiling with flexible caulk. And cover the entire attic floor with at least the current recommended amount of insulation. When you find out the R-values of your insulation, either from an energy assessment, the home builder, or your own inspection, you can then use the U.S. Department of Energy’s Zip Code Insulation Calculator to determine how much insulation you should add and where you should add it for maximum energy efficiency.
The next step to lowering your heating oil bill is to check the insulation level of an exterior wall. Select an exterior wall and turn off the circuit breaker for any outlets. Once you are sure your outlets are not getting any electricity, remove the cover plate from one of the outlets and gently probe into the wall with a screwdriver. A plastic crochet hook is even better, as it will retrieve small bits of any insulation material for easy identification. If you encounter a slight resistance, you have some insulation there. Unfortunately, this method cannot tell you if the entire wall is insulated, or if the insulation has settled. Only a professional thermographic inspection can do this, and it might be worth the expense if you own an older home and have doubts about it being properly insulated.
If your basement or crawlspace is and open to the exterior, you’ll want to determine whether there is insulation under the living area flooring. For our climate here in Maryland, Energystar.gov recommends insulation with an R-value of 25-38 for floors.
On the other hand, if your sub-space is enclosed and contains heating or cooling appliances, air ducts or plumbing, it is better to insulate the sub-space perimeter rather than the living space floor. The insulation at the top of the foundation wall and first floor perimeter should have an R-value of 19 or greater
Stay tuned for tip #3 which focuses on the outside of your home. Tevis Energy works hard to supply you with low heating oil prices and we want to keep you informed on what you can do to keep your oil heating costs as low as possible.
Locally-owned since 1932, Tevis Energy is proud to deliver heating oil to the homes and businesses of customers in Maryland and Pennsylvania, including Adams County, Baltimore County, Carroll County, Howard County, and York County.