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Brief: Home Winterizing Tips and Energy Audits

— Rebuilding Together Alexandria expanded its list of easy, energy-saving upgrades and is encouraging residents to use these to help struggling neighbors prepare for the winter.

  1. Install a programmable thermostat to lower utility bills: According to Energy Star, the average household spends more than $2,200 a year on energy bills. By using a programmable thermostat, homeowners can save about $180 annually.

  2. Insulate attic hatches: Attics — including attic doors — are a great place to add more insulation to make a home more comfortable and efficient.

  3. Air dry dishes: Instead of using the dishwasher’s drying cycle consider air drying them to save energy and money—up to 50 percent.

  4. Set water heater to 120 degrees: According to the Department of Energy, every 10 degree reduction in water temperature will save between 3–5 percent in energy costs.

  5. Replace regular light bulbs with compact fluorescent lamps: Energy saving light bulbs cost as little as $6 and last 12 times longer, saving up to $50 on electric bills over the life of the bulb.

  6. Install ‘foam gaskets’ for electrical outlets: With very little time and money, foam pieces can be inserted under the faceplates of outlets and switches on external walls, saving significant energy and money.

  7. Cover AC and Hot Water Tanks: Covering window or wall-mounted air conditioning units with a “jacket” during the winter months will keep a home warmer and save money. Also, putting a three inch insulating jacket on a hot water tank will save about $40 a year.

  8. Caulk around doors and windows: Caulking — along with weather-stripping — will cut energy use, saving nearly $200 a year.

  9. Use power strips: Plug multiple home electronics, such as TVs and DVD players, into power strips. Then turn the power strips off when the equipment is not in use to fuel savings.

  10. Install low-flow faucets, showerheads, and toilets: According to Energy.gov, using low-flow fixtures can achieve water savings of up to 60 percent.

On Oct. 20, RTA will be performing these upgrades and others as part of its Energize Alexandria event. With support from Lowes and Sears, RTA volunteers will weatherize and provide free energy-efficient upgrades to homes of low-income veterans, disabled, and elderly residents. These efforts will help 20-25 vulnerable families and individuals maintain and afford to stay in their homes.

Rebuilding Together Alexandria will also conduct energy audits of homes of low-income Alexandria homeowners in late September and early October. These audits will be used to help assess winterizing needs for these homeowners — often elderly, disabled, or veterans. Energy audits provide suggestions to help homeowners save money and remain healthy in their homes.