Everyone knows that it is important to do everything you possibly can to save energy, but it is especially important during the winter months. Not only will it save you money during these chilly months, but it can also help the environment. There are certain key steps you can take to conserve energy and save money in several areas of your home this winter. Both Mother Earth and your bank account will thank you later.
Heating System Tricks
When it comes to keeping your home warm, you likely have the heat turned up. However, this can get very costly. For every degree lower you put the temperature setting on the thermostat you can save 1% on the bill. This year, instead up turning up the heat, stick to a reasonable temperature and dress warmly inside. Additionally, you can have a programmable thermostat installed so the temperature lowers automatically during the day, which saves you money. When the sun is shining, you may want to consider keeping your blinds open so the warmth of the sun can heat your home. If you don't already, you need to have attic insulation installed so your home can retain the heat more efficiently.
Before the cold weather really hits, you need to get your furnace heater replaced so it runs efficiently. Consider getting it cleaned, lubricated, and adjusted by a professional to reduce energy use, and clean the heating system vents so your system doesn't have to work as hard.
Inspect the filter every three months to ensure you do not need to replace it again. One key trick that many people do not consider is reversing the flow of the ceiling fan. Doing this in the winter causes it to push hot air downward when turned on. Just be sure to change it back when things start warming up again!
Make Sure Your Heat Isn't Getting Out Through Leaks
Leaks in various places in your home can be a big culprit of letting out your warm air inside. To prevent this, you should do a thorough check throughout the home. First, check the dryer vent for any income cold air. If you find some, you can repair or replace the flap or simply add caulking. You should also check the electrical boxes for any gaps since they are breezeways for cold air. If you find any, fill them with caulk. One of the biggest sources of energy loss in the winter are leaky windows. Check all of the windows and seal the leaky ones with caulk.
Other big culprits are the entry doors. If you feel a breeze coming from them, you may need to adjust the door threshold or even install a new door sweep. You will also want to go around your home and caulk under sinks, gaps around outlets, any other air leaks found and cover room air conditioners. If you only do one thing this year, you will want to seal any attic holes. This is the number one source of heat loss since the hot air rises and the airflow through the ceiling and attic holes can remove the majority of the hot air.
If you have a fireplace in your home, you may be losing heat all winter. With a modern fireplace, you should equip it to have air intake from the outside through an airtight door. With an older fireplace, you should make sure it is equipped to use the room air for combustion with a door that has operable vents. Also, if you are not using the fireplace, keep the vents closed so there is no added heat loss. Only keep the vents open when there is a fire burning. One reason for this is that traditional fireplaces pull heated air out of the home. You may even want to consider installing temper glass doors on the fireplace so no air gets out. You can add a heat-air exchange system that is designed to blow warmed air back into the room instead of outside. Even if you don't install new things for your fireplace, you will want to check it for soot or creosote build-up to ensure safety.
One of the best things you can do to reduce the heat lost through a fireplace is to use a gas fireplace instead. It has been made with newer energy, efficient technology and materials so it has better heat output. With a gas fireplace, it becomes as efficient as your furnace because you can get 75-99% of the energy back from the natural gas or propane as heat. This is compared to the energy efficiency of a wood burning fireplace, which averages just 10-30% efficiency at the conversion of fuel to heat.
General Energy Saving Tactics
There are some very easy tricks to saving energy all over the home. First, consider replacing your old appliances with energy efficient ones. If you find that it is impossible to seal your leaky windows, you may want to simply replace them or even seal them with plastic instead. You can save a lot of energy by turning down the temperature on your water heater. If you decorate for the holidays, consider using LED holiday lights for energy savings. While you are cooking, use lids to reduce energy consumption by up to 14% and never open the oven to take a peek because 20% of the heat escapes each time it is opened. Lastly, you may want to ask your energy provider for an energy assessment to see the areas that need improvement and where you can save the most.
As you can see, there are many things you can do to reduce the energy consumption and loss around your home. Even if you do not implement everything this year, doing one or two things could make a big impact on your energy use.
Author, Patricia Dimick is a stay-at-home mom and a freelance writer from Denver. As a passionate green living advocate, she enjoys exploring and writing about anything eco-friendly related. She spends her free time with her family, enjoying trips to nature or doing fun DIY projects. You can reach her @patricia_dimick