As the year shifts further into autumn, temperatures continue their downward trend in most parts of the US. With the approach of winter weather, many people are looking for new ways to save energy (and money).
Perhaps you need to conserve your energy use due to budget constraints or a desire to build up your savings. You may also be thinking about your carbon footprint and its effect on our planet. Whatever your reason(s) for wanting to save energy this winter, you’ll benefit from putting at least some of the following tips into action:
- Layer up – Get into the habit of keeping your heat set a few degrees lower than you have in the past. The general rule of thumb is that you can save 5% on your heating bill for each degree that you lower your thermostat. Stay comfortable by wearing more layers around the house – including a cozy sweater, thermal underwear (if needed) and fluffy socks. Add an extra blanket to your bed as well.
- Use solar power – Even if you don’t have solar panels in your home, you can still take advantage of the sun’s rays to heat up your home. To do this, keep your south-facing window coverings open during the day to welcome in the sun’s natural heat. When the sun goes down, make sure all blinds and curtains in your home are closed to keep as much heat in the house as possible. Additionally, invest in thermal blinds or drapes to help keep drafty windows from letting in too much cold air.
- Winterize your windows – If you have especially drafty windows that are still letting in too much cool air even with thermal window treatments, you may need to take extra steps to stay warm. The two most effective ways to winterize drafty windows are by caulking around the exterior of the window and applying plastic wrap over the inside. The plastic stripping you’ll need comes in easy to install window insulation kits and can be found at most hardware stores.
- Change your filters – It’s recommended that you have your heating system examined once every year before severe winter weather arrives. This yearly check-up by a professional will catch any problems before they cause your heating system to fail, which could prove to be inconvenient, uncomfortable and even dangerous if it happens when temperatures are extremely low. At the very least, be sure to replace your heating vent filters on their recommended schedule. When filters are not replaced on time, they become ineffective at doing their job, and they start to restrict air flow throughout your home. This will increase your energy costs.
- Don’t heat the whole house – This is especially true if you have a large home, but small and medium-sized homes will also use less energy if you focus on heating the rooms you actually use. To do this, close the heating vents in rooms you don’t use and seal them shut with a vent cover. Close the doors to any unused rooms, and make sure that heating vents are open in the rooms you spend the most time in.