Your home's heating and cooling system consumes the most energy, accounting for over half of your total energy bills. During the summer and winter months, when temperature control is used the most, your utility bill will skyrocket. Winter is especially difficult because heating costs are unavoidable. Fortunately, there are a few simple ways to save money on your power bill while still feeling warm in the winter.
- During the day, let the sun enter.
The sun is a terrific source of free heat, which is why the family cat prefers to nap in sunbeams. By opening your curtains and blinds during the daytime, you take advantage of the greenhouse effect and enable the sun to naturally heat your home.
- But at night, close the curtains.
Unfortunately, because windows are not as well insulated as your walls, they can also be a source of heat loss. When the sun goes down, close your drapes and blinds to keep the cold out of your home. To make your windows more energy efficient, consider investing in insulated curtains.
- Seal air leaks and drafts
It is simple, practical, and reasonably inexpensive to air seal your home. Caulking and weatherstripping frequently pay for themselves in energy savings within a year. Use caulk to seal cracks and gaps between stationary components like door and window frames. Anything that moves, such as the door or window sashes, can benefit from weatherstripping.
Doors are a common source of drafts. Check the weather stripping and seals around the door frame if you have a drafty door. Replace any damaged or missing weather stripping, as well as any broken seals, with fresh caulk.
Windows are a key source of breezes and heat loss, especially in older homes. Insulate your windows in winter by sealing the frame off with cling wrap or something to block the air.
Attic and Basement
When looking for air leaks, thoroughly inspect your attic and basement, as these areas often conceal the largest problems. Seal minor cracks with foam or caulk. You may need to install or replace insulation in larger holes.
Heat Leaks Unexpected
Drafts can get in through doors and windows, but there are a few other places you might not think about. Electrical outlets, light fixtures, air conditioners, and gaps in your insulation can all allow cold air into your home.
When not in use, a blazing fireplace is a terrific way to stay warm in the winter, but it can let chilly air in. When you're not using your fireplace, keep the damper closed. Plug and seal your fireplace if you never use it.
- In unoccupied rooms, close doors and vents.
Have a spare guest room that you only use when your in-laws visit? A storage facility? Perhaps the kids are at college. Whatever the cause, if you have a room in your house that is rarely used, you are wasting energy in the winter by heating it. Close all doors and seal all vents in the room. This will save you money on heating unoccupied area.
- Use blankets and clothes to keep warm.
Warming your body is far cheaper than heating your home. Reduce the temperature in your home and compensate by wearing a good sweater and warm socks. A thick blanket, comforter, or duvet will keep you warm at night.
Consider getting your dog a doggie sweater if you're worried about keeping them warm. Sweaters should not be worn by cats. Cats not only despise clothing, but they also appear to have a natural aptitude to locate the warmest location in the house.
- Reset the thermostat on your water heater
Water heaters consume the second most energy in the home, after heating and cooling systems. Heating water consumes a lot of energy, and most people have their water heater's thermostat set far too high. Your water heater warms water to a specific temperature and then keeps it at that temperature all day, every day. That means that whether you use it or not, your water heater simply cycles on and off, reheating water to that temperature. Setting your water heater's temperature a few degrees lower will save you a few dollars on your energy costs. You probably won't notice the change unless you're used to taking showers at blistering temperatures.
- Keep the air moving.
Ceiling fans are well-known for keeping you cool in the summer, but did you know that they can also keep you warm in the winter?
Ceiling fans usually rotate counterclockwise, pushing air down and creating a little wind chill effect that makes you feel cooler. Most ceiling fans, however, feature a reverse switch that allows them to turn clockwise, creating an updraft and bringing heated air from near the ceiling down into the remainder of the room.
- Make use of space heaters.
Use a space heater if you only need to heat a small area. Because there is no heat loss through ducts or combustion, electric space heaters are a very energy efficient method to remain warm. Space heaters are great for heating closed-off places that you only use for a short time, such as your garage or that bathroom that is always colder than the rest of the house. However, space heaters are less efficient than a natural gas furnace or a heat pump when it comes to heating your entire home.
- When possible, use LED lighting.
The most energy-efficient lighting solution is now LED lights. They use 75% less energy and last 25 times longer than traditional incandescent bulbs. LEDs are more expensive upfront, but they will last you a lot longer than traditional bulbs.
- Leave the oven door ajar after using it.
It would be a waste of energy to heat your entire house with your oven. However, if you’re using it anyway, there’s no sense in letting that heat go to waste. Allow the additional heat to escape and warm your kitchen by leaving the oven door cracked open after removing food from the oven.
Year-Round Savings on Your Energy Bill
Energy savings isn’t just a wintertime activity. Many of these tips will save you money all year long. While you wouldn’t want to wear a thick sweater in front of a space heater in the summer heat, air stripping, insulated curtains, and smart thermostats work equally well in the summer. These techniques are just as capable of keeping your home cool in the summer as they are of keeping you warm in winter. Saving energy in wintertime really is a smart idea for year-round savings.