Make Your Home More Energy Efficient in Winter
Saving money is a good idea all year round. One way to continually save money through lower utility bills is to make your home as energy efficient as possible. You might not be able to implement all of these ideas, but starting with just one or two this season is a step in the right direction.
- Reducing the temperature inside your house to 68 F when you’re home during the day and 60 F at night and when you’re not at home can instantly save you serious cash. The Department of Energy estimates you can save 1% on your bill for each degree you lower your thermostat for eight hours. Dial it down seven to ten degrees and you can reach annual savings of up to 10%! A programmable thermostat makes this change in habit a breeze. Note: Avoid this advice if you have a heat pump system if it causes auxiliary heating to come on.
If you have the cash for it or already need to replace a large portion of your HVAC system, consider investing in a zoning system that allows you to alter temperatures between rooms for even better energy-use control and higher savings.
- Clear the space around supply and return vents, radiators, and baseboard heating vents of obstructions like furniture, appliances, rugs, pet beds, toys, holiday decorations—anything that prevents free air flow. This will ensure efficient distribution of warm air.
- Change or clean your furnace filters (in a forced hot air system) once a month or more often, as needed. Dirty and clogged filters mean your HVAC system must work harder, run longer, and use more energy.
- If your hot water tank doesn’t already have an insulating jacket, get one that fits the manufacturer recommendations. Aim to insulate the first six feet of hot water pipes that connect to the water heater.
- Check for and fix leaky heating, ventilation, and air conditioning ducts.
Windows and doors
- In colder months, keep window draperies and shades open during the day on southern-facing walls to allow sunlight to enter. Keep them closed at night to reduce heat loss and drafts from cold windows.
- Apply caulking, install weather stripping, or use spray-in foams around exterior windows, doors, and between heated and unheated spaces (garages, basements, crawl spaces, attics, etc.).
- Kitchen or bathroom fans left running can pull out an astonishing amount of heated air in only an hour. Remember to turn off exhaust fans when you leave the room (or they’ve done their job) and consider installing a timer switch to make life easier.
- ENERGY STAR light bulbs use 70–90% less energy and can last 15 times longer than incandescent bulbs. Dimmer switches can also save money by allowing you to adjust lighting levels to precisely want you need, and no more.
- Clean the dust from the coils under your refrigerator so it doesn’t have to work harder to keep food cold. Also check the seals on your refrigerator and freezer doors to make sure the cold is staying inside.
- Shop for energy-efficient appliances during pre- and post-holiday sales A smart, energy-efficient appliance could start paying you back in hundreds of dollars in energy savings very quickly.
- Find and fix leaks, drips, and running toilets. A steady leak can quickly waste tens of gallons of water, and tens of dollars.
- Consider purchasing a low-flow shower head (saving 2,700 gallons of water a year) or energy-efficient toilet for greater water savings.
- Take shorter showers and avoid baths. It’s estimated that trimming just two minutes off your shower time can reduce water usage by 10 gallons.
- Avoid washing clothes in hot water. You could cut your per-load energy usage in half by using warm or cold water.
- Lower the temp on your water heater to 120 F to reduce heating costs by up to 10%. If you’re traveling for the holidays, turn the heater to the lowest setting for increased savings.