STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- Paying high electric, gas and water bills are part of living in New York City. Although the cost for comfort is sometimes difficult to swallow, the need to have air conditioning in the summer, hot water on demand, heat in the winter, and flowing water are necessities that cannot be avoided.
There are a few simple steps you can take to save energy and be more efficient. Not only will your efforts lower the cost to run your home, they will also reduce your carbon footprint.
Firstly, search for air leaks aroundthe perimeter of your home. Check around your windows and exterior doors to make sure no heat escapes during the winter, causing your heat to stay on longer and you to consume more gas.
Leaks around windows and doors will create the opposite effect during the summer. Hot and humid air that seeps into your cool and comfortable home will keep your air conditioningrunning longer, whereby increasing your electric consumption.
Seal the leaks with spray foam, caulk or weather stripping. If you have single pane windows, consider looking into options for replacement to a more efficient double pane window. Making the effort to seal up these leaks, combined with checking the insulation in your attic, basement or crawl space to ensure there are no gaps, will decrease your energy bills.
Secondly, check the ductwork of your central heating and/or air conditioning system. Typically 20 to 30 percent of the air that moves through your duct system may be lost due to leaks, holes or a separation in the ductwork.
Addressing these problems in between seasons, when your unconditioned spaces are most comfortable, is a smart choice. Frigid temperatures in the winter or hot summer days will make checking these areas uncomfortable and more of a burden.
Resolving these duct leaks will improve the efficiency of your heating and air conditioning system and will improve your family's comfort. It will also decrease your gas and electric bills.
Start by visually checking the ductwork that is accessible in your attic, garage, crawl spaces or unfinished basement. Seal and then insulate, if possible, any accessible ducts. If you notice that some of your ductwork is not secured, you may want to strap it in place to avoid it shifting in the future. If there is ductwork that you suspect is leaking, however, you cannot access, I suggest consulting a licensedand insured HVAC contractor to assist.
Next, try saving water by turning off the faucet while shaving or brushing your teeth. Consider turning off the shower while soaping up. You may even want to consider waiting to turn on your dishwasher or washing machine until there are full loads. Some simple water savings tips can save you about 8 gallons of water a day.
When it comes to water usage, check your faucets, toilets and hoses to ensure there are no drips or leaks. The average American home wastes more than 10,000 gallons of water per year from easy to fix leaks and wasted use of water. If your faucet is leaking, check to see if you can repair it with a wrench for a quick fix. If not, consider replacing your faucet with a new one or call an experienced and licensed plumber.
To check your toilet for silent leaks, put a few drops of food coloring into your tank and watch for about 10 minutes. If the water in your bowl turns color before flushing, it may be time for a new rubber flapper.
Lastly, if you have not replaced your shower head over the last 10 years, consider doing so. Newer shower heads offer water saving features without compromising decor or function. This too can save you almost $100 per year.
As with all Home Improvements, if a task seems too big, consult with a licensed and insured professional that can provide you with energy efficiency options, as well as opportunities to improve your most prized possession....your home.
Scot Troost, Vice President - Troost Bros. Inc. Home Renovations
(718) 667-3131 www.troostbros.com
All our experts are licensed, bonded and insured members of the Staten Island Chapter of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (The Home Improvement Contractors of Staten Island). Homeowners should always consult with licensed professionals, check a contractor's license through the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs (call 311 for information) and insure that their project complies with NYC DOB regulations before embarking on any home improvement project.