Energy Saving Tips for Fall and Winter

energy saving tips

Did you know that you can make your home feel warmer without turning up the heat this winter? With a few winterization tips, you’ll save energy without spending more money.  

The following are measures you can take to winterize your home:

  • Clean your gutters.  This will help rain and snow drain properly and prevent water damage to your roof and walls.
  • Block air leaks.  Drafts can account for 5-30% of your home’s energy use.  Block spaces around windows and in your basement and attic using caulking or weather stripping.  For bigger gaps under doors, consider a draft snake.  These are long thin tubes covered with fabric to help block air from entering and exiting under exterior doors and windows. 
  • Insulate your home.  Insulation is one of the best ways to prevent heat loss and keep your energy bills down.  Make sure your insulation is in good condition by contacting a local contractor.  Insulate your walls and attic with high quality insulation to keep warm air from leaking out hidden places. 
  • Check to make sure your furnace is in good, working condition.  Replace the filter and clean the furnace to make sure it can function properly. Have a professional check to see that the burner is working and that there are no leaks in the exhaust system.
  • Check duct work for leaks.  Properly sealed ductwork can help prevent air leakage that causes heat loss.  If you find a leak, seal it before winter sets in. 
  • Winterize your windows.  Consider installing storm windows and screens. For an inexpensive option, purchase a window insulating kit from your local home improvement store.  These include layers of plastic film or sheeting attached to windows using double-sided tape and shrunk using a blow-dryer to seal the window.
  • Clean your chimney.  Clear out old ash and wood pieces yourself using a shovel, small broom, and bucket.  Consider hiring a chimney sweep to make sure your chimney is in good working condition for fires.
  • Reverse the direction of your fans.  In the summer, fan blades should rotate downward (counterclockwise if looking up at it) to help create a breeze throughout the room.   In the winter, reversing the fan’s direction will force the warm air from the top of a room down into the living space. 
  • Insulate your pipes and water heater. Wrapping your pipes and heater with an insulating blanket will keep your water hot and avoid reheating.  You can purchase heater blankets at a local home improvement store.
  • Turn your hot water heater down to 120 degrees.  Most water heaters are set to 140 degrees by default.  By turning the temperature down by 20 degrees, you save a significant amount of money and energy on your heating bills.   
  • Turn your thermostat down by 4 degrees and put on a sweater.  Keeping your home’s temperature at or around 68 degrees will help avoid excess heating costs.  Turn the temperature down a few more degrees while sleeping or out of the house. Instead of turning the heat up, consider putting on a sweater and socks to warm your body without using energy.  Install a programmable thermostat to automatically regulate your home’s temperature based on your schedule.
  • Shut the doors to rooms you don’t use.  If you have extra guest rooms or storage rooms that you don’t use, close the doors to avoid heating empty spaces.
  • Close your curtains and blinds.  This can help keep the warm air in and the cold air out.  Open them if it warms up and the sun is shining to help heat your home using solar energy.
  • Make sure you have alternative heating fuels and plenty of wood on hand.  This is important in cold climates where winter storms could potentially cut off regular heat sources.  Kerosene heaters work as an alternative in emergencies, but they can be dangerous.  Follow all directions and warnings when using to minimize hazards. Make sure your fireplace or wood burning stove is accessible in case you need it.

Estimated Cost Savings:

Prepping  for the cold season with these energy saving tips for the home can lower your heating bills and keep you comfortable. Many winterization steps have small upfront costs ($10-$20) and if done properly, they can provide a return on investment within the winter months.