Fall and Winter Energy Saving Tips
With fall upon us and the familiar chill of winter creeping in, it is time to unpack the holiday decorations, your winter wardrobe, and start reviewing those old soup recipes you’ve been itching to try. In the midst of all this holiday hustle and bustle, why not save a few extra dollars by trying these energy saving tips around your home? Not only will you save yourself some money but you’ll also be utilizing your home, utilities, and appliances more efficiently than you have in years.
LET THE SUN DO WHAT IT DOES BEST. We often neglect to think about that big ball of energy burning in the sky. We forget that it’s raining energy in the form of heat onto us every day, just begging us to utilize this free service. Open up those curtains on the south facing side of your house (this is where the sun hits it most directly) and let the sun help you heat it up during peak hours and close them back up when it starts to dip too low in the sky.
SEAL UP THOSE WINDOWS. There’s no easier way to waste money and heat than to neglect a drafty window. Windows are the conduit between the inside of your home and the outside world, so naturally you should want as much of a barrier between the two during the winter months. There are several ways to best ensure that your heat isn’t escaping through these pathways.
- SHRINK FILM also known as INSULATION FILM. Imagine a giant roll of heavy duty plastic wrap and you’ve got the basic idea for insulation film. If you’ve ever lived in an old, drafty house through a harsh winter like Socket has, than you know that this method is effective. The basic idea behind this concept is sealing the entirety of your window panel to help keep out cool air. This method is incredibly cheap as well and a kit typically costs around $15.
- CELLULAR SHADES. As explained by Lowes, “Cellular shades are window coverings made from pleated fabric that forms honeycomb-shaped cellular compartments. These compartments, which come in single, double and triple layers, trap air, which provides insulation and can save you money on your energy bills.” The more layers, the more energy efficient they are. These are available for as little as $25, the price increases as quality does and are well worth the investment.
- RUBBER WEATHER STRIPPING. This is another super easy way to help properly seal up your windows for winter time. This product is a no brainer and there are tons of YouTube videos available to assist with instillation. Basically you use the weather stripping to seal up any cracks or leaks that may permit cold air into your home. This is another incredibly cheap and effective product and is available at your local home improvement store.
- LAYERED OR INSULATED CURTAINS. During the spring and summer months most of us enjoy light emitting curtains that soak our rooms in sunlight. However, in the winter months these do little to protect us from the freezing temperatures outside. With the right set of thick, heavy, insulated curtains we can effectively trap heat inside our house while blocking the cold air from seeping inside. This is an investment worth making. Socket recommends buying a neutral color so that you may use them repeatedly year after year while still remaining free to redecorate.
- DRAFT STOPPERS. Anywhere from $5-15, draft stoppers are probably the cheapest money saving product on this list, not to mention the easiest to install. You simply slide it underneath your door to create a foam barrier on both sides of it. This helps prevent cold air from drafting in underneath your door.
GIVE YOUR THERMOSTAT SOME REST. More often than not, people like to sleep in temperatures that are cooler than the average temperature they enjoy in their house throughout the day. This preference is actually incredibly beneficial for your utility bill! Turning down your thermostat 10-15° during your normal eight hours of sleep will save you an average of 10% per year on your bill. For those of you who can’t bear to get out of bed when it’s freezing in the house, a programmable thermostat will save your mornings! Simply program your thermostat to gradually increase the temperature starting an hour or two before you plan to wake up. This way you won’t have the uncontrollable urge to hop back under the covers after getting out of bed to turn up the heat a few degrees.
CONSIDER PELLET AND WOOD STOVES. If your house does not having a working fireplace, these two appliances are great alternatives. Whether you have one already or are planning to get one, here are some tips to keep them performing at an optimal level. This requires a bit of elbow grease but will yield big rewards. You will need to regularly clean the flue vent and use a wire brush to clean the inside of your stove. This will prevent build up and encourage good circulation in your appliance. (Fun fact: Pellet stoves are greener and cleaner than wood stoves. They emit nearly no smoke and the pellets are just wood waste, you’re basically recycling!)
HUMIDITY IS YOUR FRIEND. Living in the south, many of us are aware that the summer heat wouldn’t be as terrible if it wasn’t for the relentless humidity that accompanied it. Here’s the science: “If the air is at 100-percent relative humidity, sweat will not evaporate into the air. As a result, we feel much hotter than the actual temperature when the relative humidity is high. If the relative humidity is low, we can feel much cooler than the actual temperature because our sweat evaporates easily, cooling us off.”This means that in the winter time when humidity is at its lowest we will feel the cold more intensely. This is where humidifiers come into play. Place these in strategic areas of your home to put moisture into the air, this will moisten the air and make your home feel warmer.
KNOW AND PROTECT YOUR WATER HEATER. Who doesn’t love a hot shower to help them unwind or gear up for the day to come? Well, come to find out, never running out of hot water does not necessarily mean that your water heater is top notch. This could mean that whoever installed it set the temperature too high. The average temperature of a water heater should be 43-49°C. Setting the temperature to the appropriate level will not only ensure that you don’t take exuberantly long showers but it will also prevent any accidental scalding from occurring. Another good thing you should consider is wrapping you water heater in an insulated blanket. Newly installed water heaters usually come with this, but if yours is older it could need to be added or installed. A good 24 or higher R-value insulation will only run you around $20. Definitely do your research to be sure it is safe for your year and model.
DO YOUR MAINTENANCE CHECK LIST. These are the little things, the ones we usually forget or put off the longest. Checking this list will add to the overall efficiency of your energy use. Things like replacing your furnace filter once a month, uncovering your air vents and vacuuming out any dust or pet hair that’s built up, sealing off the vents in rooms you don’t often use, and switching your ceiling fans direction to make sure they are pushing the hot air down and not dragging it up to the ceiling. Doing these things will ensure that your home is working as a unit with two objectives: keeping you warm and saving you money.
BE FESTIVE AND ENERGY EFFICIENT. We all love a little holiday cheer in the dreary months of winter. Whether you go big or stay minimal, you should consider using LED holiday lights. These glow brighter while at the same time using 75 percent less energy and lasting 25 percent longer. Just like with all appliances, be sure to unplug them when you are not using them. Many people use a power strip to shut them off easily, but this year, consider investing in a timer for your lights. These usually run around $20-30 and will allow you to program your lights to be on and shining during the early evening hours and then power down as you snuggle into bed later that night.
Socket hopes these tips were helpful and save you money this winter! Remember, proper maintenance and preparedness during these colder months will not only help your wallet but also indirectly benefit the environment.