Energy costs are expected to rise again this winter, leaving many wondering how they can save on winter energy bills.
Preparing your home for cooler weather is the first step in saving money as winter approaches. The tips below will save money and energy while allowing you to stay comfortable during the cold winter months.
Here are a few things to do before the cold weather arrives:
Weatherize your home
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, roughly 10%–20% of the annual average cost of energy is wasted due to drafts, air leaks around openings and outdated heating and cooling systems.
Before the cold weather hits, seal any cracks or openings with caulking and weatherstripping near windows and doors to help keep the cold air out. Outdated heating and cooling systems can also have leaks, so be sure to seal those as well.
Update to energy-efficient lighting
You can save on energy by simply swapping out old incandescent bulbs for newer, more efficient light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs which can use up to 90% less energy than standard bulbs.
Perform maintenance on your heating systems
Poorly maintained systems and appliances use more energy to function. Before winter hits, check the maintenance requirements of your devices; it may be time to clean or replace filters.
If you use fire to heat your home, ensure your chimneys are clean and functioning well to maximize efficiency and save money on wood or pellets.
If you don’t plan to use your fireplace, plug and seal the chimney flue.
Here are a few things you can do when the weather turns cold:
Keep the heat in and cold out
Along with weatherizing your home, plastic window coverings can reduce cold air transfer through glass windows. Shades or curtains can also give you greater control over your home’s comfort and energy consumption.
The Department of Energy recommends opening the shades or curtains during the day, allowing sunlight and warmth in and closing them at night to trap heat inside.
Master your thermostat
If you have a thermostat, set it lower by 7–10 degrees for eight hours a day while you are away or asleep. Doing so can shave as much as 10% per year off your heating bills, according to Energy.gov.
“In winter, the lower the temperature inside your home, the slower the loss of heat. So, the longer you keep your thermostat at the lower temperature, the more money you save because your home has lost less energy than it would have at a higher indoor temperature.”
Lower the thermostat setting to between 50° and 55°F when using a fireplace. Reduce heat loss by opening dampers in the bottom of the firebox (if provided) or opening a nearby window slightly and closing doors leading into the room.
The heat from household appliances can be used to raise the temperature of a room. If you cook with an indoor oven or run a dishwasher after a meal, leave the door of that kitchen appliance open after use. You can also leave the hot water in the tub after a bath to help heat the surrounding air.
Think energy conservation with your devices
When the weather is cold, people spend more time inside watching television, playing games on their phones and using other electronics or appliances more than usual. Enable any energy-saving features, like low-power mode, lowering your screen’s brightness or making sure your device goes to sleep when idle.
One straightforward way to keep your energy bill low is to reduce the heat needed in the home. Dressing in warmer clothing and using blankets to retain body heat allows you to keep your thermostat at a lower temperature.