12 Ways to Save on Energy Costs This WinterIt’s no secret that heating costs are one of the most significant contributors to your monthly energy bill. In fact, temperature control accounts for almost half of the average energy bill. In the cold, cold months of winter, you’re probably running your heater 24/7, costing you even more. Fortunately, we’ve come up with this list of winter energy-saving tips to help you save a few bucks on your utility bill without feeling the chill.
1. Use Caulk and Weatherstripping to Seal a Drafty HomeMost homes, especially older homes, can be a little drafty. These drafts are actually heat escaping from your home. Use caulk and weatherstripping to seal air leaks. These simple modifications will quickly pay for themselves in energy savings. Weatherstripping is great for moving bits of your home like doors and window sashes. Caulk is more effective for stationary leaks like door and window frames.
DoorsDrafty doors are a major source of heat loss. Check the weather stripping and seals around all your doors that lead outside. Apply new caulk to any broken seals and replace any damaged or missing weather stripping.
WindowsWindows are less insulated than your walls. That means that even properly sealed windows can let precious heat slip away. Add temporary winter insulation to your windows by sealing the frame with clear plastic window film. Window film is cheap, easy to apply, easy to remove in spring, and can be found at any home improvement store or online. It only costs a few bucks to insulate every window in your home, and you’ll see big savings on your heating bill.
Attic and BasementUnfinished attics and basements often hide the worst air leaks. Use foam or caulk to seal any small cracks you find. For larger holes, you may need to install or replace insulation.
Other Heat LeaksDoors and windows are obvious sources of drafts, but there a few more you may not think of. Winter air can sneak into your house through gaps in electrical outlets, light fixtures, and AC units. A fireplace is a great way to warm up in winter, but it can allow a steady stream of cold air into your home when there’s no fire in it. Keep your fireplace damper closed whenever you aren’t using your fireplace. If you never use your fireplace, plug and seal the chimney flue.
2. Let the Sun Heat your HomeThe sun is a great resource. It’s warm, it’s free, and it’s available to everyone. Open your curtains or blinds in the daytime and let the sun shine through to take full advantage of its natural heat.
3. Avoid Heat Loss at NightWhile windows can let in the sun’s heat in the daytime, they are also a main route of escape for heat at night. When the sun goes down, close your curtains and blinds to add a bit of insulation to your windows and prevent heat loss. For maximum nighttime energy efficiency, purchase insulated curtains to trap as much heat in your home as possible.
4. Don’t Pay to Heat Unused RoomsIt makes no sense to spend money heating rooms you don’t use. Guest rooms, storage rooms, and other infrequently visited rooms are just a waste of heat. Close off the vents in that room and close the door to avoid paying to heat unused space. If a guest does suddenly need that guest room, you can simply open the vent again for their stay.
5. Lower the Temperature on Your Water HeaterIt takes a lot of energy to heat water, and your water heater heats water 24/7. It should come as no surprise that water heaters are the second biggest energy hog in your home. You can reduce this burden by turning down the temperature on your water heater by just a few degrees. Since most people have the thermostat on their water heaters set too high anyway, you probably won’t even notice the difference.
6. Reverse Your Ceiling FansSure, ceiling fans keep you cool in the summer, but did you know that they can also help keep you warm in winter? Under standard settings, ceiling fans rotate counterclockwise. They push air down and produce a slight wind chill effect. However, most ceiling fans have a reverse switch that will enable them to turn clockwise, creating an updraft that moves the warm air near your ceiling down, letting you enjoy that sweet ceiling heat.
7. Small Area – Small HeatersUse a small space heater if you only need to heat a small area temporarily. With no heat loss through air ducts or combustion, electric space heaters are a very energy efficient way to stay warm. They’re not so great for heating the whole house, but they’re perfect for shorter periods in closed off spaces like your garage, tool shed, or that bathroom that’s always too cold at night.
8. Deck the Halls with LED LightsIf you still use the old incandescent Christmas lights, swap them for super energy-efficient LED decorations. LEDs not only use 75% less energy than standard incandescent lights, they also last 25 times longer. They might cost a little more at the store, but LEDs are so durable that you very well might pass those lights on to your great-grandchildren. LEDs are so efficient that a standard wall socket can handle 25 strings of LEDs connected end-to-end without overloading.
9. Leave the Oven Door OpenDon’t try to heat your home only with your oven — you have more efficient systems for that. However, if you just baked dinner (or a tray of delicious Christmas cookies), then you might as well leave the oven door open a crack and let all that trapped heat escape into your home as your oven cools.
10. Lower the TemperatureLowering the temperature in your home by just a couple degrees can result in significant long-term savings. Turn your thermostat down to the lowest temperature you find comfortable.
Put on a Sweater and Use Warm BlanketsYou may enjoy lounging around the house barefoot in a tank top and shorts, but it’ll cost you in the wintertime. Instead, set the thermostat a few degrees cooler and bundle up. Wear warm socks, sweaters, and sweatpants, and you’ll still be both warm and comfy. When you go to bed, huddle under a thick blanket, comforter, or duvet to trap body heat.
Turn Down the Temperature at NightAccording to the U.S. Department of Energy, you can save 10% on your energy bill just by turning your thermostat down 10 to 15 degrees for eight hours a day. Since everyone is now snuggled under warm blankets, you can turn down the temperature at night and save a few dollars.
Purchase a Smart ThermostatA smart thermostat is a Wi-Fi enabled device that automatically adjusts temperature settings in your home for peak energy efficiency. These devices learn your habits and preferences and establish a schedule that automatically adjusts to energy-saving temperatures when you are asleep or away. A smart thermostat can cost a little bit of money up front, but they unlock significant long-term savings on your energy bill. You can likely offset the upfront costs, as well. Some state and local governments incentivize smart thermostats with rebates, and responsible energy providers might offer exclusive discounts.
11. Get a Fixed-Rate PlanIf you’re not already on a fixed-rate energy plan, it’s time to look for one. Both electricity and natural gas are subject to supply and demand. That means that when the demand goes up, price goes up, and there’s no greater demand for heat than in winter. A fixed-rate plan will lock you into one convenient low rate all year long.
12. Save on Energy All YearIf you make a few of the changes listed in this article, you’ll see the savings year-round. Many of these techniques, like insulated curtains and air sealing, are just as good at keeping hot air outside in the summer as they are at keeping warm air inside in the winter. Energy-efficiency is an all-year activity, and it’ll save you money no matter the weather.
- Heating & Cooling. Energy.gov. https://www.energy.gov/heating-cooling
- LED Lighting. Energy.gov. https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/save-electricity-and-fuel/lighting-choices-save-you-money/led-lighting
- Fall and Winter Energy-Saving Tips. Energy.gov. https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/fall-and-winter-energy-saving-tips