Reducing your home energy usage is good for several reasons. First and foremost, it keeps money in your pocket. But it also lightens the load on local power grids and the environment — a win-win all around.
Try some or all of the 12 steps below to save on your energy bill while staying cozy and comfortable in your home. They’re easier than you think!
1.Let the Light Shine In
Use the sun’s heat (bonus: it’s free!) to your advantage! Open curtains and blinds on your south-facing windows during the day to let the heat in and then close them at sunset to keep it in.
2. Leak-Proof Your Home
Inspect your home for leaks (get tips from energy.gov on detecting air leaks here). Often invisible, leaks can wreak havoc on your energy bill. Use weather stripping and caulking to seal leaks and keep warm air inside. While you’re at it, insulate your ducts, which can be a significant source of heat loss. For windows that you rarely use during winter, get plastic window kits to further leak-proof.
3. Bump the Temp Down
Just by setting your thermostat a few degrees lower, you can immediately begin saving. Consider installing a programmable thermostat for even more time- and energy-efficiency.
4. Pay Attention to Your Water Heater
- using less hot water
- setting your water heater’s thermostat to 120 degrees F.
- buying an energy star model when it comes time to replace it
- fixing leaks
- washing clothes in cold water
- installing low-flow showerheads and faucets
5. Check the Fireplace
When not burning a fire, keep the damper closed. Consider installing tempered glass doors and an air exchange system that blows warm air back into the room. Check the seal on the flue damper and make sure it’s tightly sealed. Finally, add caulking around the hearth. If you never use your fireplace, plug and seal the flue.
6. Maintain Your Heating System
Have a professional check and tune-up your heat pump or furnace once a year. This could lead to big savings. Make sure they also replace any clogged filters, which can make your furnace work harder, thereby raising energy costs (you can also check and replace filters yourself).
7. Close Unused Vents
In rooms that are rarely used, fully or partially close the vents to redirect heat to other rooms.
8. Use Ceiling Fans
Everyone knows heat rises, which means the air you’ve paid to heat rises and collects at the tops of rooms. This can be especially costly in homes that have high ceilings. Use your ceiling fans to push warm air downward – just make sure they’re set to run in a clockwise direction.
9. Check Your Insulation
If your attic doesn’t have at least 11 inches of insulation, you’ll most likely lose heat through the upper level of your home.
10. Recycle That Hot Air
After cooking, leave the oven door open a crack to let the heat help warm the house. Bonus? You get to savor the delicious smell of those cookies, baked goods, or dinner a little longer.
11. Space Heaters
Portable heaters are a good cost-saving option if you and your family are hanging out in one room for any length of time, or if you’re the only one home and are stationary (like working in a home office). But remember to use caution whenever using space heaters – according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, these heaters cause more than 25,000 residential fires per year. Follow the heater instructions carefully and always unplug them when not in use.
12. Bundle Up
Sweaters, socks, and cozy blankets really do make a difference.
By making a few tweaks in your home and modifying some behaviors, you’ll begin to see cost and energy savings in no time.
And as we transition from winter to spring and summer, check out our companion piece on lowering your cooling costs.
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