Is your home ready for winter?

Minnesota is the 3rd coldest state in the US during winter months, only beaten by Alaska & North Dakota!  Is your home ready to weather the winter months? Weatherization plays a huge role in beating the cold and keeping your energy bills down during the winter months.

The average U.S. household will pay an additional $94 in heating costs, up a steep 10.5% from last winter, says the National Energy Assistance Directors’ Association (NEADA), a group of state energy aid officials.

  • Natural gas customers are expected to see their tab rise nearly $50 this winter, a 5% increase. More than half of U.S. homes are heated with natural gas.
  • Electricity customers will likely see a record 7% increase in their heating bill, according to the NEADA, which will affect over 30% of the population.
  • For the 8% of homes using heating oil, the increase may be particularly dramatic. The average U.S. heating oil bill is expected to be a record this winter, up 28% from a year ago.

Any forecast for winter heating costs is subject to weather. Neil Gamson, analyst at the federal government’s Energy Information Administration (EIA), says weather forecasts so far point to a colder winter than last year, suggesting higher bills may be in store.

So what can a person do to combat this upswing in costs?

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DIY Weatherizing:

We all know about putting plastic over windows, layering on extra clothes and turning down the thermostat, but are you aware of all the money saving tips and tricks you can be doing yourself? No need to call a professional with these! Click on the following links for step by step directions (with pictures!) on easy ways to conserve energy the old fashioned way.

 

Energy Audit:

Also called an energy assessment, a home energy audit helps you learn how you use energy, determine where it’s being wasted and prioritize your efficiency upgrades. Making energy efficiency upgrades identified in a home energy audit can save 5-30% on your monthly energy bill. Most people think their biggest source of leaks are windows, but that’s generally not the case. Heat more commonly slips out through outlets and light switches on exterior walls and from recessed lighting. Other trouble spots are attics and crawl spaces with little or no insulation, and leaky duct work through which warm air escapes before it ever reaches the rooms.

 

Professional Weatherization:

Save 10-30% on your utility bills by having a professional energy expert weatherize your home. What do they focus on during the weatherization process?

  • Sealing Air Leaks – The sum of all air leaks can equate to one open window. Imagine one window being open at all times during the winter. Sounds very cold.
  • Adding Insulation – Most Minnesota homes aren’t up to recommended levels of insulation throughout the home. All MN attics are recommended to have a minimum of R50, and some northern places ask for R60. That is equivalent to 17-20 inches of cellulose or fiberglass insulation.
  • Window Weather Stripping – Sealing your windows with window caulking and adding window stripping to older windows can help lower your energy bills without installing new windows altogether.
  • Weather Stripping Doors – Sealing your exterior doors with weather stripping products is a great way to eliminate unwanted cold air and lower your energy use.

Having a contractor weatherize your home can be costly–about $2,500 on average. It is important when planning this process to consider available tax credits and rebates before installation. Be sure to visit energy.gov for a list of available options!

 

Government Assistance:

The Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) is federally funded through the U.S. Department of Energy and enables income-qualified households to permanently reduce their energy bills by helping to make their homes more energy efficient while protecting the health and safety of family members.

The Energy Assistance Program (EAP) helps pay home heating costs and furnace repairs for income-qualified households. EAP is federally funded through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Stay warm this winter!

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If you or someone you know needs assistance navigating the available energy and heating resources in our community, please call our office at 218.825.7682.