Remember that feeling when you opened your heating bill after the first month of winter last year? Gasp! Well, guess what? The cold is back, but that reaction doesn’t have to be. These energy conservation tips will help you better manage your heating and cooling, while keeping your monthly utility bill low. Let’s get to it.
1. Add attic insulation. You know the deal: heat rises. And when this happens in your home, guess where it’s going? Yep, the attic. So by installing insulation, or adding more, you can keep the heat from escaping—and as a result, lower your electric bill. In fact, Energy Star estimates you can save up to 20% on your heating and cooling costs by insulating your home properly.
2. Install window film. No matter how much you were able to unexpectedly save during the holidays, replacing drafty windows costs a fortune. Even if they’re single-paned, there is a simple solution for retaining heat and limiting draftiness: window film. It’s widely available at just about any hardware store—and not that expensive. Make sure the plastic is tightly sealed directly to the frame to reduce the cold from coming in.
3. Take control of your thermostat. Another method for saving energy at home? Be a nitpicker with the temperature. According to the Department of Energy, you can save as much as 10% a year on heating and cooling just by turning back your thermostat 7-10 degrees from its normal setting for eight hours a day.
4. Consider buying a programmable thermostat. If you haven’t upgraded to a programmable thermostat, this might be the year to do so. This small piece of plastic offers a big return on investment. You simply set it to automatically adjust the temperature when you’re asleep or away from the home—controlling both air conditioning in the summer and heat in the winter. For less than $100, a high-quality programmable thermostat can pay for itself within a season.
5. Keep your vents open and clean. This is a VERY simple way to save electricity at home. While it may seem that closing vents can minimize costs, the opposite is actually true. Closed vents restrict airflow and increase costs. Each vent also has a filter to capture unwanted particles and keep them from circulating throughout your house. So check your vents and replace them as needed to maintain optimal airflow!
6. Inspect (and protect) your furnace. Generally, if your furnace is more than 15 years old, it may be time to upgrade to a more energy efficient unit. Plus, an inefficient model could be raising your costs instead of lowering them. Even if you can’t afford to replace your furnace just yet, assess the ducts and the unit’s filter to make sure there aren’t any gaps where heat is leaking out.
7. Upgrade to a low-flow showerhead. Here’s a startling stat: Most older showerheads pour out around four to five gallons of water per minute. And with the average shower taking about eight minutes…you can do the math. It’s a LOT of H20. And in the winter, it’s a lot of heat used, too. By installing a 1-2 gpm (gallons per minute) low-flow showerhead, you’ll be saving on your water AND energy bills. We thought you’d like the sound of that.
8. Pay attention to the big (literal) gaps in your home. We discussed how quickly heat can escape, but what about the ease with which cold air can creep in? Survey the interior and exterior of your home for any noticeable cracks and holes around places like chimneys, pipes, baseboards, windows, and doors. Depending on where the gaps are, use calk, spray foam, or weather stripping to seal.
9. Finally switch to all LED light blubs. These are the gifts that keep on giving year round. LED light bulbs, especially Energy Star products, use at least 75% less energy and last 25 times longer than incandescent lighting, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. So there’s no more wondering how to save on electricity at home anymore. LED is the answer.
These tips should ease your pain (and your wallet) as the temperature continues to drop. But if that post-holiday winter still has you down, we have a few ways to beat the winter blues at home.