Winter weather has arrived and despite dropping prices for heating fuel and natural gas, heating costs still burn a big hole in your pocket. Saving energy at home is easier than you think.
What is energy efficiency? Energy efficiency is using less energy to provide the same service.
There are many low-cost options to get you started as well as other cost-effective options for bringing down your utility costs. Click on the category links below to see tips for reducing your home energy consumption this coming winter.
Cover all bare floors. Carpeting or rugs add to comfort and heat retention.
Use a programmable thermostat and during the winter set it to 65-70 degrees when you are home during the day, 60-65 degrees at night, 55-60 during the day if you work out of the house and 50-55 if you go on vacation.
Close the flue in your fireplace and install glass doors to keep your warm air from going up the chimney.
Use a ceiling fan on clockwise at low speed to push the warm air down. During the summer months set the fan to counter-clockwise
Keeping humidity levels up during the winter is not only good for your health, but also for your air and furniture. It helps keep the ambient air temperature feeling warmer than dry air, which means you can turn your thermostat down. Use a humidifier and keep humidity between 35% and 50%.
Limit your use of portable heaters. They’re great for “spot” heating, but running a 1,500-watt heater 24/7 can be expensive.
Don’t block air vents with drapes and furniture.
Change the filters in your heating system for optimum efficiency.
Set your thermostat to 60 degrees if going on vacation during the winter months, but don’t turn it off.
Heat your home with the sun’s help. Leave window shades or blinds open during the daytime.
Check for household leaks to make sure air isn’t escaping through openings such as fireplace dampers, doors and windows.
Install attic insulation rated R-30 at minimum and sealing any attic leaks will reduce high home heating costs.
Check/Replace weatherstripping as needed of all exterior doors to prevent air leaks.
Replace standard bulbs with CFLs or LEDs. Compact fluorescent light bulbs are more energy-efficient than regular bulbs, while giving off the same amount of light. LEDs, more expensive in the past, are coming down in price and show great savings at 9 watts instead of 14 watts for CFLs.
Use the right bulb. Make sure you’re using the appropriate CFL bulb for your light fixture – they come in various sizes and types for different lighting needs.
Use motion-detector lights for all your outdoor lighting – they’re convenient and efficient.
Choose outdoor CFLs or LEDs for outdoor lighting – they last up to 10 times longer than standard bulbs. LEDs are the most efficient and are coming down in price.
Always wash with cold water, laundry detergent works just as well, and you’ll save 40 cents per load.
Check your hot water pipes for leaks, which can drain your energy savings.
Install aerating, low-flow faucets and showerheads – available at home improvement stores – to reduce your hot water use.
Turn off your water heater if you plan on leaving home for a few days. And on when you get back. Most models will reheat the water to the set temperature in about an hour.
Insulate the first six feet of the hot and cold water pipes connected to the water heater.
Get an insulation wrap to help your old water heater keep heat in more effectively.
Reduce your water heater temperature setting to 130 degrees — it will save you money and prevent scalding while keeping water hot enough for showers and cleaning dishes.
Stop that dripping hot water faucet. Leaky faucets not only increase water bills but also increase gas or electricity use for heating the wasted water.
While an improvement in functionality and more energy efficiency, new windows are not a cost-effective improvement (the cost to replace the windows is not recouped in energy savings in 10 years or less). Rather than replace windows, make sure you are doing the following.
Remove A/C Units from windows or walls. Leaving them in is like leaving a big gaping hole in your wall through which warm air can escape.
Close and lock all windows (including storm) to keep drafts out. Opening the window when the heat is on is very inefficient.
Use blinds and curtains to help control heat loss/gain and light levels. Using heavy curtains in the winter will block any heat loss. For windows that receive direct sunlight, keep shades open during the day and close them at night.