There are several ways to save energy in the winter, including lowering the temperature, letting sunlight in, checking windows and doors for drafts, using a humidifier, monitoring airflow, checking home insulation, and getting an energy audit
Winter weather, freezing temperatures, and less daylight can make your energy bill skyrocket. Try these winter energy-saving tips to lower your bill while still staying nice and toasty.
Lower the Temperature
While many people keep their daytime temperature set to 70–72 degrees Fahrenheit, a better target is 68 degrees. If you feel a little chilly, you can always layer with a warm sweater or snuggle up with some blankets on the couch when watching TV.
Optimal sleep calls for a lower temperature, and you can go as low as 60 degrees at bedtime. While this may sound chilly, it is a comfortable temperature, especially when you are already under the warmth of a comforter. You can always add another blanket for maximum toastiness if it feels too cool.
If everyone in your household is out during the day for work or school, then you can turn off the heat altogether. Either turn it up to 68 when you get home or use a smart thermostat that you can control remotely. This way, you can turn on the heat twenty to thirty minutes before anyone gets home. However, only follow this tip if the weather is moderate; if the temperature is too cold, it may take too long to heat up your home, and you run the risk of pipes freezing. According to experts, this could help you save up to 20% on your bill each month.
Also, be sure to check your air filters; you should clean or replace them frequently. This can make a big difference in the efficiency of your HVAC system.
Let the Sunshine in
Opening blinds and curtains during the day to allow sunlight in can warm up your home significantly. The extra sunlight can also boost your mood and energy. You may also find your pet napping in the sunniest parts of your home. In the evening and at night, close the curtains to provide an extra barrier to keep cool air out.
Check for Any Ways Air Can Escape
Warm air can escape through windows and doors. You can put a door draft stopper under any doors that lead outside. Door draft stoppers come in both moveable fabric varieties or can attach to the door with an adhesive. These models are made of rubber, fabric-covered styrofoam, or silicone.
A bonus of the adhesive door draft stoppers is that they can also keep out pests like cockroaches and mice. Doors that lead to screened-in porches or sunrooms may also benefit from a draft stopper; these rooms may not connect to central heat and air and can be very drafty.
Windows can also let heat out and cold air into your home. Locking windows can help seal them tighter and reduce the amount of cold air seeping in. It is also a great safety precaution. Drawing any curtains or blinds will also help with the draft. Fabric, movable draft stoppers can also work well for larger windows and bay windows.
Inspect your window and door weather stripping as well. The cold weather can cause the stripping to contract and shrink, causing air to escape. A professional can repair the stripping, or you can take it on as a DIY project.
Winterization kits are also a great DIY option. These involve covering your windows in insulation film for the wintry weather months. While it doesn't look aesthetically pleasing, it’s quite effective and allows sunlight to enter. A more permanent solution for windows is getting interior storm windows installed. While a more expensive option, this approach will last for years.
Another culprit is your window air conditioning units; air can escape through the gap. To prevent drafts, either remove the unit and seal the opening or use an insulated cover.
Always be sure to check and see if the fireplace is closed correctly. While sitting next to a roaring fire is very soothing, heat can escape through the chimney. Be sure the damper is completely closed when not using the fireplace so that warm air cannot escape and cold air can’t seep in.
Add Some Moisture
Using a humidifier can make your home feel toastier since water traps heat and makes the air feel warmer. A side benefit of moisture in the air is it does wonders for your skin. Your skin will not get as dry and it will also help curb static electricity. Humid air is also good for winter colds as it can ease symptoms.
Allow the Air to Flow
You want to keep the warm air flowing and circulating. Turn on your ceiling fan to keep the warm air moving throughout the house. In the winter, turn the fan on in reverse so that the blades are rotating clockwise instead. Most fans have a button or switch at the base, or there may be an option on the knob to reverse the blades. This reverse motion will pull the air up and send hot air at the ceiling level back down where you can feel it.
Give your rooms a once-over and make sure that none of the furniture blocks any heating vents. Even if couches and beds are not directly blocking heating vents, be sure that they are several feet away from the vents to allow the warm air to circulate properly. You can rearrange the furniture if needed to give it the optimal airflow pattern.
Check The Insulation
Make sure your home is properly insulated. Heat can escape, and chilly air can seep through basements, attics, and garages, especially if not insulated sufficiently. You may need to insulate these rooms further if you notice a draft. Homes built in the 1980s and prior may need an insulation check and possible improvements. Check the ducts as well. If the ducts leak or cause a draft, use mastic sealant or foil tape to reinforce the vents.
Get an Energy Audit
An energy audit involves a professional coming to your home and investigating where heat escapes and what you can to prevent it. You can do an energy audit yourself, but a professional will have technical information on how to save energy in the winter. It may involve insulation or repairs. If the audit doesn’t yield the results you hope for, you may want to upgrade your HVAC system. New models are high-efficiency and will save you money over time.
Implementing one or more of these winter energy-saving tips can save you money in the long term. It will also make your winter more comfortable and enjoyable.