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Home Winterization Tips

How to Winterize Your Home and Save Money

1. Change Furnace Filters

2. Run Fans in Reverse – Most people think of fans only when they want to be cool, but many ceiling units come with a handy switch that reverses the direction of the blades. Counterclockwise rotation produces cooling breezes while switching to clockwise makes it seem warmer by making an updraft that sends the warmer air pooled near the ceiling back into the living space. This can cut your heating costs as much as 10 percent.

3. Winterize Your A/C and Water Lines – This one’s really easy, and it will save you wear and tear on your cooling system, so it can function at tip-top shape the next time you need it. Simply drain any hoses and air conditioner pipes, and make sure you don’t have excess water pooled in equipment. If your a/c has a water shutoff valve, go ahead and turn that off.

4. Turn Down Your Water Heater – While many conventional water heaters are set to 140 degrees F by installers, most households don’t need that level, and end up paying for hot water that just sits around, slowly cooling. Lowering the temperature to 120 would reduce your water heating costs by 6 to 10%.

5. Install Storm Doors and Windows – The simple act of installing a storm door can increase energy efficiency by 45 percent, by sealing drafts and reducing air flow. Storm doors also offer greater flexibility for letting light and ventilation enter your home. Look for Energy Star-certified models.

6. Use an Energy Monitor – Measure your way to savings with an energy monitor.  This device indicates household electrical usage by device in real time.  Now you´ll know if it is time for a new refrigerator or if that old air conditioner is still saving you money.

7. Use Caulking and Weather-stripping – Simple leaks can sap home energy efficiency by 5 to 30% a year, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. That means it pays to seal up gaps with caulking and weather-stripping.

8. Insulate Your Pipes – Pay less for hot water by insulating pipes. That can also help decrease the chance of pipes freezing, which can be disastrous. Check to see if your pipes are warm to the touch. If so, they are good candidates for insulation.

9. Insulate your attic. One of the easiest ways to save some money is to ensure that you have at least 12 inches of insulation in your attic. Hot air rises and through the attic is where it’ll go unless you sufficient insulate it. The rule of thumb is that if you can see your ceiling joists (the wooden beams), you don’t have enough because those are often shorter than 12 inches. You should also reduce the amount of transfer through your attic stairway by installing an attic stair cover.

10. Turn off exterior water lines. Chances are you won’t be using any of the water faucets outside of your home, so shut the valve that allows water to those exterior bibs. This prevents the water inside from freezing and cracking your pipes.

11. Wrap your water boiler. Since it’ll be cold, it’s more important than ever to invest in a water heater blanket and warp your water heater so it loses less heat into the ambient air.

12.  Open the blinds in sunny rooms. Be sure to keep the blinds open on any rooms that get a lot of sun, ever little bit of extra heat can help keep those bills down.

13.  Get a programmable thermostat. Programmable thermostats can help you save a ton of money by only turning on when you most need it. All HVAC systems work the same way – they are either on or off (there’s no low, medium, or high intensity setting). If you can keep your system off when you’re not home or when you’re asleep, you can save yourself a lot of money. They are easy to install and often break-even (cost vs. savings) within the first year.

14.  Consider lowering the temperature setting on your thermostat. A lower temperature means the system is on less, so try lowering the temperature a degree at a time.

15.  Replace your HVAC air filter. During the winter, when the system will run more often, it’s good to replace it monthly so that you don’t have a dirty air filter ruining the efficiency of the system.

16.   Install window insulators. Window insulators are simply plastic sheets you tape up over windows to add an extra layer of protection from the cold. If you have especially drafty or old windows (especially if they’re single pane), consider replacing them.

17.  Block those leaks – One of the best ways to winterize your home is to simply block obvious leaks around your house, both inside and out, experts say. The average American home has leaks that amount to a nine-square-foot hole in the wall. First, find the leaks: On a breezy day, walk around inside holding a lit incense stick to the most common drafty areas: recessed lighting, window and door frames, electrical outlets. Then, buy door sweeps to close spaces under exterior doors, and caulk or apply tacky rope caulk to those drafty spots. Outlet gaskets can easily be installed in electrical outlets that share a home’s outer walls, where cold air often enters.

18.  Don’t forget the chimney – Ideally, spring is the time to think about your chimney, because “chimney sweeps are going crazy right now, as you might have guessed.” That said, don’t put off your chimney needs before using your fireplace.

One other reminder: To keep out cold air, fireplace owners should keep their chimney’s damper closed when the fireplace isn’t in use. And for the same reason, woodstove owners should have glass doors on their stoves, and keep them closed when the stove isn’t in use. An installation of a chimney draft guard will also prevent the loss of heat via your fireplace.

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Filed under Energy Conservation, Healthy Living, Home Winterization

Winter Energy Saving Tips

Now that we are approaching the early part of winter, you can take some steps to reduce the amount of energy that you’re using to lower your bill. Here are some suggestions.

  1. Turn Back the Thermostat – Set your thermostat to 68°. Your heating system will operate less and use less energy.  You can also save from 450 – $125 a year by turning down your thermostat down 5° at night or when leaving your home for an hour or more. For a small investment, consider purchasing a programmable thermostat to adjust your home’s temperature settings automatically.
  2. Use power strips – Plug home electronics devices, such as TVs, computers, game devices and stereo equipment, into power strips; turn the power strips off when the equipment is not in use. Another step further would be to implement smart power strips to improve energy efficiency and reduce vampire power loss.
  3. Set Water Heater to 120° – Consider reducing your water heater to a cooler setting will reduce the amount of energy required to keep the water warm enough. A reduction of 10°F could result in a savings of 2 – 6% savings in water heating related costs.
  4. Wrap Your Water Heater – Purchase a water heater blanket, which is widely available at most hardware and home improvement stores. The Department of Energy states that this will save the average household around 4-9% of their annual total water heating costs (around $12 – $48 for most homes.)
  5. Clean Refrigerator Coils –  On an annual basis, refrigerator coils should be vacuumed and cleaned. Dirty coils can result in energy loss between 5% – 8%.
  6. Seal Building Leaks and Gaps  – Use weather stripping and caulk around windows and doors. This will be an inexpensive way to save on energy loss.
  7. Install Water-efficient Water Appliances – By installing low use shower heads and faucets, you can reduce hot water usage by up to 10%, which will be a savings of $5 – $25 per water appliance.
  8. Replace Furnace or Heat Pump Filter – Regularly replace dirty filters to improve airflow, which will improve furnace performance, which can result in a $25 – $50 annual savings.
  9. Properly Seal Duct Work – Properly seal ducts of a FHA (forced hot air) System to reduce energy loss.
  10. Switch to Compact Flourescent Light Bulbs – CFL’s can save up to $40 – $50 over the life of the bulb in energy costs.
  11. Smart Appliance Replacement – When appliances and electronic devices can not be repaired, choose a replacement that is Energy Star Compliant. These devices are tested to be more energy efficient than older models.
  12. Seal Fireplace Damper – To reduce heat loss, be sure to close damper when not in use. You can further reduce heat loss up the chimney by installing a chimney draft stopper.

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