In the words of House Stark—winter is coming. Days are getting shorter and the temperature on the thermometer is dropping. To help you survive the coming season, here are some strategies that will help you save energy and money on heating costs, and stay cozy during the coldest months of the year.
1. Conduct an energy audit
Having an energy audit done on your home can help you understand how to make improvements that will make your home cozier during the winter cold—and ultimately save you money on energy costs. Winter has a way of bringing inefficiencies in the home into stark and chilly focus. Does your bedroom turn into a drafty chamber that doesn’t seem to heat up when you flip the heater on? Are your floors ice cold in the winter? When these issues come up, it’s an easy reminder that performing an energy audit can help you to prioritize which home or energy upgrades will have the greatest impact on your comfort and pocketbook.
Related Reading: Cut Your Home Energy Costs
2. Reduce Heat Loss from the Fireplace
When you use the fireplace, lower the thermostat setting to between 50° and 55°F. To help reduce heat loss from your fireplace, you’ll want to keep the damper closed unless a fire is burning. Leaving the damper open will allow warm air to escape out of the chimney like an open window. Make sure that the seal on the chimney flue is nice and tight, and add caulking around the fireplace hearth, if necessary.
3. Check for air leaks and drafts
You can use a small candle to check for drafts of escaping heat along the top of all exterior walls and some interior walls on upper floors that are likely to let out heat. The hot air in a home rises and will leak out at a much higher rate than you might think, creating pockets of unpleasantly chill air. This is mostly a problem without side walls, but air can also pass up through gaps in interior walls on upper floors and into the attic. Any warm air which passes out of a home is replaced by cold air infiltrating into a home. You’ll want to make sure that your walls are all weather sealed. Remove any damaged frames or crown molding and fill any gaps with minimum expanding foam or caulking.
4. Switch to heavier curtains
Thicker curtains are a good way to insulate your windows and sliding glass doors. Consider installing blackout or thermal curtains. When they’re closed, these curtains will provide an extra layer of protection by keeping the warm air in and the cold air out. Hanging heavier curtains during the winter months will also help keep your energy bills low.
5. Switch to energy-efficient LED light bulbs
Older incandescent light bulbs are no longer being manufactured and used in U.S. households because they use a lot more energy to put off light—90% of which is lost as heat. According to the Department of Energy, the “average household dedicates about 5% of its energy budget to lighting. Switching to energy-efficient lighting is one of the fastest ways to cut your energy bills. By replacing your home's five most frequently used light bulbs with more efficient LED models, you can save $45 each year.”
6. Change Your Air Filters
If you haven’t already, set a 30-day reminder to check and change your air filters. Even if you have a more durable filter, you should still have a reminder to check in and be sure everything is running efficiently. Dirty filters can cause many issues, including higher energy bills—which is exactly what you should be trying to avoid this winter!
While we might not be able to help you avoid the winter chill all together, coming home should be your warm and cozy spot on a cold winter day! Do you have other tips and tricks on how to stay warm while keeping your energy costs low? Let us know in the comments below!