Tip #1: Seal it up.
You wouldn’t open a window in the dead of winter and expect your house to stay warm, would you? But when you have drafty doors and windows, it’s almost the same as leaving the front door open. Even small leaks in window and door seals have can have a big impact on the energy efficiency of your home. Take a few minutes to check for drafts. Take a tissue or piece of toilet paper and hold it a few inches away from door and window seals. Electrical outlets are often an unexpected source of drafts. Don’t forget to check those, too! If the paper moves, you’ve got an air leak that should be sealed up.
Of course, you could wait until a really chilly day and watch for frost buildup around windows or doors, as that’s a sure sign of a significant leak. But we’re trying to get ahead of this one!
The solution: When you find a leak, it’s worth investing in rubber weatherstripping, caulk, or plastic window coverings. It’s a little bit of work up front that can make a big difference in the long run.
Tip #2: Check your insulation.
If you can’t identify a draft but a certain area of your home is exceptionally cold, it’s likely under-insulated. Corner rooms with two outside walls facing north and west can get especially cold if they are not well insulated. A good place to start with insulation is your attic instead. Many homes, especially older homes, have attics that are largely inaccessible and don’t serve much of a function other than to create an opportunity for a whole lot of cold air to gather. And a place for the warm air inside your home to escape through! Insulating your attic can make a big difference.
Tip #3: Program your thermostat.
If you don’t already have a programmable thermostat, consider this your official sign to get one. Programmable thermostats can pay for themselves by keeping your home at an appropriate temperature at all times, without you having to think about it.
In case you’re wondering, 68 degrees Fahrenheit is considered an ideal indoor winter temperature for daytime hours, with nighttime temps even cooler. Too chilly for your liking? At the risk of sounding like your mother, how about putting on a sweater?
Tip #4: Focus on where you spend time.
Why are you keeping your basement toasty warm if you only go down there a few times per week to do laundry? Why is your guest room like a sauna if no one has slept there in months? Consider closing off rooms that you don’t use regularly – and that includes closing vents to those rooms. A smaller footprint is much easier and cheaper to keep at a comfortable temperature. Just make sure if you do close off a room to keep the temperature above freezing —you don’t want burst pipes or damage to any of the materials in the room. If you’re concerned, leave a thermometer in the room and check it periodically.
Tip #5: Make smart lighting choices.
We’ve all likely heard from a young age that it’s essential to turn lights off when we leave a room. That’s true, but it’s also important to ensure that our lights are as energy-efficient as possible. If you’ve been avoiding a lighting change because you’re worried that new, energy-efficient lighting will be too harsh or expensive, it’s time to rethink. LED lighting has come a long way in the last several years, with a wide range of lumens (light output), styles, and ambiance/tone (e.g. cool vs. warm light) at an affordable price.
Tip #6: Bring your electrical panel into the 21st century.
There are some household features that are really cool when they’re vintage. A vintage electrical panel isn’t one of them. In addition to being a potential fire hazard (not to mention prone to breakdowns), an outdated electrical panel is likely to be far less efficient. And if you’re adding an electric car charger, hot tub, or more electronics to your home, it’s important to make sure your electrical panel can safely handle all the extra voltage. Having a new electrical panel installed by a qualified electrician is not daunting and it is more affordable than you may think.
Tip #7: Change your furnace filters and get a tune-up.
Furnaces need TLC. If you can’t remember the last time you changed your filter or had a tune up, that’s a clear sign that it has been too long. Maximize efficiency and extend the life of your furnace and entire HVAC system with annual tune-ups and regular filter changes. It’s an up-front investment that can significantly lower your bills, extend the life of your furnace, and reduce the chances of a breakdown.
Tip #8: Reverse your ceiling fans.
You might forget about your ceiling fans entirely during the winter, but that’s a mistake.
One of the simplest and most interesting energy tips is to make sure your ceiling fan is rotating in the correct direction during winter.
In the summer, your ceiling fan should spin counterclockwise, pushing air down towards the floor to circulate it. But in the winter, you should run the fan clockwise at a low speed to gently draw cool air up from the floor to the warm ceiling area. This in turn pushes the warm are down towards the floor. Why waste all that nice warm air by the ceiling when you can have it circulated back down to you?
We’re wishing you a safe, warm, and comfortable winter – with a little spending money left over. Please let us know how we can help. We offer 24/7 live answering, along with same-day, evening, and weekend appointments.