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Do you have a question about how to make your home safe, healthy and energy efficient? Ask us! 

At GHHI we have leading experts on lead safety, environmental health, family advocacy, tenant's rights, energy efficiency, home safety issues, pest control and more. They have provided several answers to frequently asked questions on this page. If you don’t see what you’re looking for, send us your questions by filling out the formto the right and we’ll find one of our experts to help get it answered!

How much energy does unplugging electronics like televisions and phone chargers really save?

When your electronics are powered off, but still plugged into the electrical out, energy is still being consumed. These “energy vampires” can become expensive, especially for a family with a lot of handheld devices, gaming consoles and multiple televisions. Unplugging items after each use may seem tedious, but the savings can add up. The average home would save $150 a year by doing so. For entertainment centers or other areas where you have a lot of plugs, use a smart power strip. This way you can “unplug” electronics with the flick of a switch.

Is there a certain KWH figure that is considered to be energy efficient?

Every home is different. The size and age of your home, as well as the appliances inside are all contributing factors to the energy you use. To find out how energy efficient your home is, hire a contractor to conduct a home energy audit. They will be able to identify ways to improve energy efficiency in your home, like upgrading to energy efficient appliances, switching to LED light bulbs, investing in insulation, installing a programmable thermostat and simply turning down the temperature on your water heater. 

How can I get fresh air into my home in the winter other than open a window?

As long as you have a good HVAC system, change your air filters regularly, install proper mechanical ventilation in your bathroom and kitchen, do not smoke in or near the home and keep your home clean with a HEPA vacuum and VOC-free cleaners. Keeping all of the interior doors inside your home open will also help the air to flow freely from room to room. Assuming you leave your house once or twice a day, you’d be amazed how much fresh air can flow through an open door, even if only for a few seconds.

What temperature would you recommend setting your thermostat to when no one is in the home during the day, both in the winter and summer?

Comfortable indoor temperatures are 68˚ in the winter and 77˚ in the summer. While you’re away for more than a few hours, set the thermostat 2˚-3˚ cooler in the winter and warmer in the summer. If you are away on vacation in the winter, leave the thermostat at 60˚, to avoid frozen pipes. While away on summer vacation, leave thermostat at 80˚ to avoid increased humidity, which can cause mold growth and warp the wood in the home. 

My home has a lot of windows and it gets cold in the winter. Is covering the window in plastic the cheapest way to keep heat in?

Sealing your windows with plastic can cause mold growth or wood rot if moisture is trapped underneath. The cheapest and safest method is to use weather stripping, like foam tape or a metal-v strip, on the top and bottom of the window where it meets the sash. The draft you feel is not from the windows alone, it’s a sign of poor insulation. You should also check the exterior and interior of your home and seal any gaps, cracks or holes with caulk or foam sealant. Though more expensive, you should also consider hiring a contractor to install insulation in your walls, basement and attic—the results are immediate—a warmer home and a lower energy bill.

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