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Governor: Staywarmnh.org Offers Important Information to NH Citizens on Reducing Energy Costs, Heating Safety, Obtaining Heating Assistance
CONCORD - Gov. John Lynch said today that New Hampshire citizens and businesses can find important information on reducing energy costs, heating safety, and on obtaining heating assistance at www.staywarmnh.org.
"Dramatic fuel cost increases are making it harder for New Hampshire’s families to afford to heat their homes. My goal is to ensure that all New Hampshire families have a safe and warm winter," Gov. Lynch said. "This website is designed to help provide New Hampshire families with easily accessible, practical information on how they can conserve energy and receive help if they need it."
Developed by the Office of Energy and Planning, the website includes practical steps that families and businesses can take to reduce their heating and energy costs. For example, plugging air leaks with caulking, sealing or weather stripping can help families save 10 percent or more on their energy bills; and reducing the thermostat from 72 to 65 if people are out of the house at work or at night can cut heating bills by up to 10 percent.
The website also includes information about how families can apply for help with their energy bills, including the state’s Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, the Electric Assistance Program, or for discounts on their natural gas bills.
In addition, the improper use of heating equipment is one of the leading causes of fire in New Hampshire. The website includes information on how families can heat their homes safely.
Heating your home safely By Robert W. Varney
EPA Regional Administrator
The following information is provided by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
With projections for an exceptionally cold January in the Old Farmers Almanac and almost daily news reports warning of sharply rising heating costs, every New Englander is preparing for an expensive heating season. While encouraging energy efficiency and conservation, EPA’s New England office wants to remind residents that there are environmental and health concerns associated with some heating sources.
All combustion sources, like your furnace, fireplace or wood stove, produce carbon monoxide. This gas is odorless and tasteless, so our senses don’t detect it even at lethal levels. Early signs of overexposure are easily missed because these same symptoms - dizziness, headaches, fatigue and nausea - mimic those of the flu. Generally, carbon monoxide is vented outside the home through a chimney or exhaust vent and is not a problem. However, if exhaust systems are not properly designed or well-maintained, this poisonous gas can remain within the living space.
Some heating sources create a risk for carbon-monoxide poisoning when improperly used. Some improper uses include opening gas-oven doors for spot heating, using propane space heaters in areas that are not well-ventilated, and venting gas-fired dryers into living spaces. While no one wants to heat the outside, it is essential that combustion sources requiring ventilation are not used in confined spaces.
Due to high fuel prices, heating with wood is being promoted as a cost-saving, renewable source of energy. However, heating with wood may emit more pollutants into the air than the heat sources it replaces (e.g. oil or natural gas). Burning wood produces smoke, which contains particle pollution and other contaminants. Particle pollution is especially a concern because it can cause serious health effects, especially in children and older people. Exposure to particles can aggravate lung disease, causing asthma attacks and acute bronchitis, and may also increase susceptibility to respiratory infections.
Use of EPA-certified wood or pellet stoves that are properly installed produce less particle pollution than older stoves and can be a good supplement to an oil or gas furnace. All wood stoves manufactured since 1988 must be EPA-certified, which means they use one-third less wood than older stoves to produce the same heat. And EPA-certified wood stoves emit 50 percent to 60 percent less air pollution. EPA-certified stoves are easy to identify because they carry a special label and hang tag.
Some wood-burning devices, however, such as outdoor wood-fired boilers can produce large quantities of air pollutants. These boilers, which are becoming more popular in some areas, typically consist of a firebox that heats water in a steel sleeve around their outer walls. The water is then piped into a nearby building to provide heat, hot water or both. Although the concept may be appealing, these boilers commonly produce excessive amounts of smoke and can negatively impact nearby residences.
It is also important to properly weatherize your home. Insufficient insulation and gaps around doors and windows can make a home even colder in the winter. Sealing gaps and holes can cut down on heating needs from wood stoves.
Here are a few more tips to follow for a healthy season:
- Consider pollution emission levels and potential health effects as well as cost when selecting a heating source;
- Upgrade to an EPA-certified woodstove or other clean-burning technology;
- If heating with wood, burn only dry, well-seasoned wood;
- Always provide adequate ventilation and exhaust for a combustion source;
- Have your heating system inspected with particular attention to the vents and chimneys - don’t just rely on a carbon-monoxide alarm;
- Reduce your overall heating needs and heating bills by improving the insulation in your home; caulking around windows, doors, and pipes to seal air gaps; and adding weather-stripping to doors and windows.
For more information, visit www.epa.gov/iaq/pubs/combust.html.
Heat Can Escape Through Seams In Windows, Doors
November 14, 2005
CONCORD – A special camera can help homeowners save on heating costs by finding invisible heat leaks in the home.
Andrew Gray and Dana Nute work for the state, performing energy audits for low-income homeowners. They use a thermal imaging camera to identify areas where heat is escaping from the house, and cold air is coming in.
Gray said that both new and old homes can have weak insulation or spots around windows and doors that can appear sealed, but might not be.
To identify the weaknesses, Gray and Nute use a fan and a special device called a blower door. The fan pulls in air from any holes in the home’s structure.
Areas with good insulation show up white on the thermal camera. Cold air appears black and can typically be found around doors or areas without insulation.
Gray said that using the information to patch up drafty windows and properly insulate the house can save a lot of money.
"About $300 a year on average," he said.
Information on testing for heat leaks
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