Winter not only serves up colder temperatures and shorter days, it also brings on higher energy consumption. Energy conservation is so important, not only can it help the environment, but it can really save you money. Here are some low-cost / no-cost ways you can save:
1. Windows - It’s estimated that areas around windows and doors can account for 15 to 30% Energy in-efficiency. Caulk any leaky windows around your house to keep those winter winds out.
For older windows consider using a heavy-duty, clear plastic sheet over each window to help insulate during the cold winter months. Make sure the plastic is sealed tightly to the frame to help reduce infiltration.
2. Doors - To check your entry doors, simply open the door, place a piece of paper in the jam and close the door. If the paper can be easily removed then the seal around the door should be replaced. You can find those seals and weather stripping at your local hardware store.
3. Gaps - On the perimeter of the home check for any gaps were water lines, gas lines and even electrical or cable lines enter the home – fill those openings to reduce the cold air coming into the home.
4. Insulation - Having the proper insulation in your attic or crawl space could provide significant energy savings. The performance of your insulation is rated by the R value (the thickness of the insulation). The proper R value varies by geography. Check with your local home improvement store or the department of energy to find the proper R value in your area.
5. Lighting - Winter gives us longer nights, which means we are using our lights more. Use timers on exterior lights to limit "on" times. Consider using LED lighting on exterior lighting (especially over the holidays). Get the whole family involved in turning off lights as they exit rooms. Switch your light bulbs over to CFL bulbs (compact fluorescent lamps) or LED (light emitting diodes) - they use 25%-80% energy.
6. Water Heater - Consider turning down your water heater to 120 degrees, also if your water heater is located in a non-heated area such as a crawl space or garage you'll want to wrap the cylinder in an insulating blanket, and wrap any exposed water pipes as well.
7. Furnace - Service your furnace annually, also be sure change filters at least every 30 days. Dirty filters can reduce efficiency and even the shorten the life of the unit. Replace the filters on the unit regularly. Replacement recommendations vary by filter used. Check the manual on the HVAC system for the recommended filter and replacement intervals.
8. Room Temperature - Ideal room temperature is often considered to be about 68 degrees Fahrenheit, for every degree you turn down your thermostat you could save up to 3% on your heating costs. If you don't already have a programmable thermostat, consider installing one. It will pay for itself in a very short period of time. Set the temperature lower during awake hours & while family members are away. (You can save as much as 10% a year on heating by turning the thermostat down 7°-10°F for 8 hours a day from its normal setting).
VIDEO on SAVING with THERMOSTATS
9. Control Phantom Power - Many of your household appliances such as toasters, coffee makers, TV’s, computers and even cell phone chargers, all continue to use power even when they’re turned off. For example a TV can use 10% to 20% of its power usage when it’s off. So what can you do? Pull out plugs where ever possible and for areas with multiple electronics use a power strip (just be sure to get one that has a surge protector).
10. Switch Ceiling Fan Rotation - Ceiling fans are beneficial even in the winter by forcing warm air downward from the ceiling. You do that by switching the fan to a clockwise rotation and switching it on a slow speed.