Tips for Saving Energy in the Home

The simplest steps, like installing low-flow showerheads or getting yearly tune-ups on your furnace, can result in a tremendous amount of energy savings. Saving energy equates to saving money. Whether selecting glass packages for windows that reduce penetration of harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays into the home or simply sealing up cracks where air can leak in and out of the home, there are a number of ways you can use your energy knowledge and awareness. Here are some tips for saving energy in and around the home:

  • Examine your windows. Make sure they’re doing their part to help insulate your home. Check for hot and cold spots or drafty areas inside your home near windows, which can indicate energy loss.
  • Insulate and winterize all exterior outlets and spigots.
  • Fully load your dishwasher before starting a wash cycle. Select the shortest cycle and allow your dishes to air dry instead of using your dishwasher’s heated drying option.
  • Shop for ENERGY STAR® compliant products. From refrigerators to hair dryers to windows, products displaying the ENERGY STAR label have been tested with energy efficiency in mind. For example, ENERGY STAR labeled lighting products use up to 75 percent less energy than standard lighting.
  • Seal up any little cracks or gaps where air can leak into your home. Many experts believe the average home has enough of these small holes to equal one three-foot by three-foot opening.


Tips for Deciding When to Replace Windows

Looking for tips to help evaluate the effectiveness of windows and doors in a home you’re going to purchase, or just want to see if it’s time to replace your windows? Try these for starters:

  • Determine how many panes of glass are in the windows. Single-paned windows are the least energy efficient. You can replace them with double- or triple-paned ENERGY STAR® compliant windows to enhance energy efficiency and make a home more comfortable during all seasons.
  • Look for condensation inside the glass on double- or triple-glazed windows. This could indicate seal failure. If this is the case, you might need to replace the glass or the entire window.
  • Do your windows open and close easily? If your windows are hard to open or close – or they won’t stay open or locked – this could be a sign that the windows need replacing.
  • Have someone stand outside your window. With a small flashlight, stand inside and “travel” around the window’s perimeter. If the person outside sees areas of light coming through, this is an indication of seal failure – and probably energy loss.
  • Does it seem especially noisy in your house? If you live near an airport or busy street, consider replacing your windows with laminated glass windows to help reduce noise transmission.
  • Did your neighbors just build a new home that’s too close to your bathroom? For added privacy, request decorative obscure glass in your windows. This will allow light to flow into the home, but will keep your privacy!


Winter Window Checklist

Before temperatures drop and you see the first snowfall, make it a priority to give your windows a thorough examination. Why? Because a home’s windows are one of the chief ways that heat can be lost during blustery winter months, resulting in higher energy bills. To help with your inspection, follow these tips:

  • Check every window and door to make sure there is adequate weather-stripping and caulking which will ensure a secure seal around the openings in your home.
  • If you have storm windows, put them on early in the autumn weather to help save on your home’s energy bills.
  • Make sure to lock all the hardware on your windows. This creates a strong seal that prevents cold air from coming into the home. Even when closed, an unlocked window can still allow air to escape.
  • Examine your windows. Make sure they’re doing their part to help insulate your home. Check for hot and cold spots or drafty areas inside your home near windows, which can indicate energy loss.


Care and Cleaning Tips

Windows and Doors

  • With only simple care and cleaning, your windows and doors can keep their beautiful appearance for years to come. Vinyl won’t pit, peel or flake over time, but like any surface exposed to outside elements, your windows and doors will get dirty from time to time. Often, heavy rains will wash the vinyl clean, but if the rain isn’t enough, you can restore the splendor of the windows and doors by following these simple instructions:
  • Wash using mild detergent (if necessary) and a soft cloth or ordinary long-handled soft bristle brush. Do not wash the windows or doors with a high-pressure spray. The extreme pressure could crack or destroy the caulking around the window or door.
  • For difficult to remove dirt and stains use the readily available household cleansers listed on the chart. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on use of the cleansers.
  • In some cases you may wish to use a mildly abrasive cleanser such as Soft Scrub® but the use of any abrasive material could scratch the surface of the glass and window or door frame.
  • Do not use liquid grease remover, strong soaps and detergents containing organic solvents, nail polish remover, furniture polish or cleansers containing chlorine bleach. These items could affect the surface appearance of the vinyl.


Cleansers to Remove Stains From Vinyl Window and Door Frames


Bubble Gum Fantastik® , Murphy Oil Soap® , solution of 30% vinegar and 70% water, Windex®
Crayon Lestoil®
DAP (oil-based caulk) Fantastik®
Felt-tip Pen Fantastik® , water based cleansers
Grass Fantastik®, Lysol®, Murphy Oil Soap®, Windex®
Lipstick Fantastik®, Lysol®, Murphy Oil Soap®
Lithium Grease Fantastik®, Lestoil®, Murphy Oil Soap®, Windex®
Mold & Mildew Fantastik®, solution of 30% vinegar and 70% water, Windex®
Motor Oil Fantastik®, Lysol®, Murphy Oil Soap®, Windex®
Oil Soft Scrub®
Paint Brillo® Pad
Pencil Soft Scrub®
Rust Fantastik®, Murphy Oil Soap®, Windex®
Tar Soft Scrub®
Top Soil Fantastik®, Lestoil®, Murphy Oil Soap®

*Cleaning materials are listed in alphabetical order


Vinyl Siding

Of all your siding options, vinyl is certainly the easiest to maintain. You only need to wash and inspect it about once a year. Generally, it is touted as being maintenance free; however, there are several factors you will need to consider for the future.
Wash it annually – Keeping it clean on a regular basis will keep you from scrubbing it harder when it becomes caked with dirt.
Be careful with it – Keep lawnmowers, bicycles and lawn care items away from the siding so it doesn’t crack or break.
Keep hot things away from it – Grills, smokers, and patio torches can produce heat that can melt your vinyl siding.


 Cleaning Vinyl

Cleaning vinyl siding is a snap with the right tools. If your siding isn’t in need of scrubbing, spraying it with a hose can wash away the dirt and grime that has accumulated throughout the year. If you need a cleaning solvent, some ordinary dish soap or laundry detergent mixed with water will do the trick. Where there are troubled areas, such as mildew, a mild solution of 1 quart of bleach, ¾ gallons of water and a small amount of detergent. Scrub the areas with a soft-bristled, long-handled brush.
If scrubbing with a brush is going to be too much work, you can wash your siding with a power washer, which can be rented at your local home improvement store or other equipment rental business. Most homes can be pressure washed with a 2200 psi or higher washer.

To wash, follow these simple steps:

  • Turn off all power to the outside lights that may get wet.
  • Ensure that all your windows are closed and spray away from doors and windows.
  • If you have shrubbery or flowers below, make sure you cover them with plastic so no cleaning solution drips on them.
  • Start at the top and work your way down.
  • Be sure to rinse your cleaning solution off the siding before it dries.