Easy ways to reduce energy bills this winter

By By BEN RAYMOND LODE / Niles Daily Star
NILES - An increase in the price of natural gas may have some worrying about how to cover this winter's energy bills.
Especially, perhaps, among those who live in older houses or apartments where the insulation may be poor and where doors and windows are old and energy inefficient.
But Chris Williams, of Williams Do It Yourself Lumber and Hardware in Niles, said there are several easy ways to reduce the energy bill without having to spend the big bucks.
Williams, who has 35 years of experience in the home renovation business, estimates $50 is a sufficient amount to prevent heat loss and reduce the energy bill on average houses.
Many of the weather stripping products on the market are self adhesive and simply applied around the edges of doors and windows to seal cracks and crevices where air is penetrating, he said.
Williams said indoor window insulator kits and duct tape and poly film put up on the outside of windows also reduces draft.
But Williams said there is also money to be saved by minimizing air leaks from basements.
Both in new and old basements there are typically areas that can be weather stripped, caulked or patched, he said.
It's important to have an air tight basement to prevent cold air from coming in and pushing warm air up and out of the house, Williams said.
But the most important area to have properly insulated, Williams said, is the attic.
He said people can use two products to insulate the attic: cellulose energy care or fiberglass insulation, both of which are available at home improvement stores.
When insulating the attic, however, it's important to make sure ventilation is adequate.
Williams said fresh air needs to be able to move through the attic to carry out moisture, which, if not carried outside, can cause the roof's sheathing to mould.
Proper ventilation will also keep the attic cool, which serves its own purpose.
For those who have extra money to spend, Williams said there is also the option of installing new doors and windows. Currently replacement doors and windows seem to be popular.
Replacement windows start at between $200 to $300 and replacement doors start at approximately $100, Williams said.
But Williams said insulating a home is not just about making the place you live more energy efficient.

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