The heat is on
Helpful tips to conserve energy and cut your utility bills

Sarah Holland
Northern News Services

NNSL (Oct 04/99) - Home heating accounts for 70 per cent of the energy consumed in homes, according to the Arctic Energy Alliance.

That amount is staggering and if you don't practice energy conservation, it becomes clear how much money and energy is wasted every month.

In the realm of home heating, there are several areas that can be huge energy wasters if not properly checked and maintained.

The Arctic Energy Alliance has outlined these areas and some of the biggest energy suckers can be addressed.

The number one consumer of energy is the water heater. To ensure you are getting the most value from your heater, there are a number of things you can do to help.

Insulate your hot water tank with a special blanket or R12 fibreglass with an outer wrap of polyethylene or foil. This will help to stop heat loss from the tank. Reducing the tank's thermostat to 54 C is another good idea, as often the tanks come with the temperature set higher than necessary.

Insulating any pipes that vertically extend from your tank can help to trap any heat that may be lost from bare pipes. The insulation is easily installed around the pipes and can make a big difference.

Something else that you can control is the length of your bathing time. The Arctic Energy Alliance suggests you take short showers rather than baths and use a low flow showerhead.

Another energy hog is the furnace. Every home has some form of furnace and, with a long winter ahead, it's important that your heating system runs efficiently and cleanly.

Some tips for doing this include cleaning or replacing your air filter on a regular basis, as dust can build up quickly and make your furnace work harder than it should. Having your furnace tuned and cleaned yearly is another good idea and there are professionals who do this.

Around the house, make sure that registers and radiators are not blocked and that cold air returns are clean and open. Insulate heating ducts or pipes passing through unheated spaces. If you have a pipe that leads from one room to another, or outside, some simple caulking will often help to stop the air flow.

As for temperature control, installing a programmable setback thermostat can really help with those heating bills. You decide when the furnace goes on and off without worrying about forgetting or constantly changing the setting. And don't forget the old standby that we've all heard many mothers say: put on an extra sweater or add another blanket if you're cold.

You can't forget about windows and doors. If these don't have the proper insulation and stripping, air blows right in and out, and along with the air goes money. Also make sure to keep ice and snow clear of these openings.

Window insulation kits are a great idea for older or uninsulating windows. They are simple to install and work wonders for keeping the cold

air out and warm air in.

Two kinds of windows often used in the North are dual pane and tri-pane, according to Dave Petryshen, manager of Umingmak Supply in Rankin Inlet.

"Here, dual pane windows use solar gain, where pressure is pumped in between the two panes and light is reflected between the panes and brought into the house and heat will not be let out.

"Regular windows lose a lot of heat," adds Petryshen. "We don't have many temperature extremes in the North, but we do have cold and a lot of wind, and heat is easily transferred through improper windows."

From windows and doors to furnaces and hot water tanks, heat loss and waste happens everywhere in the house.

But by taking some time to assess your house and fixing and maintaining problem spots, your home will be warmer and your bills will be lower.