During the winter, keeping your home cozy and warm can come at a premium price. Thankfully, there are several easy ways that you can up your energy efficiency this winter, by making easy and inexpensive changes. The hardest part is starting new habits and creating a consistent routine to see the changes you want. The following tips will help you keep the chill at bay, and result in lower electric bills and energy conservation.
1. Lower your thermostat for 8 hours each day
Individuals who lower their thermostat 7-10 degrees each day save around 10% on their energy bill, annually. The best times to do this are either during the day while you are at work, or during the night when you are asleep, or both.
For those who are home during the day, but still want to lower the temperature, there are a couple of things that you can do to stay warm and comfortable, without using significant energy.
- Wear layers. It might take some time to get used to a cooler house. Start by wearing layers like socks, an undershirt, and a sweater.
- Run your ceiling fans. Wait, what? You run the fans to keep cool, right? Most of the time, yes! But, if you run your ceiling fans in a clockwise direction, they will trap more heat lower in the room. This helps you preserve the heat that your heater produces when it does click on.
If you are worried about consistently forgetting to turn down the heat, consider investing in a programmable thermostat or a smart thermostat. With the push of a few buttons, you could be saving almost $100 a year!
Estimated Savings: $83
2. Use an advanced power strip
At the end of a long day, we all want to unwind and relax. A large percentage of Americans do this by watching T.V. or playing a video game, but you probably don’t think of the significant energy that these electronics use. Honestly, that probably would not be a relaxing activity. If you don’t have your television and accessory devices like a game console, wifi router, DVD player, etc., plugged into a power strip, then that is a great place to start. Using a regular power strip will help save on energy spent and energy costs.
However, did you know that your electronics still feed on power, even when they are turned off? This is called a vampire load. Using an advanced power strip will stop this energy-sucking behavior in its tracks, and make a significant dent in your energy bill, helping you save up to 12%, annually.
Estimated Savings: $100
3. Replace frequently used lights with energy-efficient light bulbs
The United States Department of Energy recommends switching out the five most used light fixtures or bulbs in your home with more energy efficient models that have received an ENERGY STAR® rating. These light bulbs typically use 70-90% less energy than traditional bulbs and last 15 times longer. The most commonly used types of ENERGY STAR® rated light bulbs are halogen incandescents, CFLs, and LEDs. Switch out your light bulbs and enjoy saving 9% on your electricity bill annually.
Estimated Savings: $75
4. Lower your water heater temperature to 120°
Did you know that you can adjust the temperature on your water heater? Most manufacturers set the thermostat at 140°, but you can safely lower the heat to 120° in most cases. If you reduce your water heater temperature, then it won’t expend so much energy trying to get your water up to high temperatures which can result in standby heat losses and over-consumption. Dialing back the thermostat on your water heater can save you anywhere from 4-22%.
However, if you have a suppressed immune system or chronic respiratory disease, the United States Department of Energy warns against lowering the temperature of your water heater. While lowering the temperature to 120° is considered safe for the majority of the population, there is a very slight risk of legionellae bacteria populating in hot water tanks maintained at 120°.
Estimated Savings: $12 – $60
5. Seal air leaks from doors and windows
Leaks from doors and windows are a substantial contributing factor to your home being hard to heat and keep heated during the colder months. Fortunately, a couple low cost, easy fixes will save you a lot of money (10-20% annually), energy, and keep you comfortable with just a little bit of elbow grease.
Here are two ways you can seal up those pesky leaks and trap hot air (or cool air, in the warmer months) inside.
- Use a door draft stopper. A door draft stopper is the easiest fix for under-the-door air leaks and can be purchased at almost any superstore or home goods store. Just put the door draft stopper on the floor butted up next to the bottom of your door, and you are good to go! While this is a temporary solution, it’s great if you’re in a pinch and don’t have time for a more permanent fix.
- Seal air leaks with caulk. You can use caulk and a caulking gun to fix air leaks in your windows and doors easily. There are many tutorials on how to do this, but we especially like this one, from the United States Department of Energy.
Estimated Savings: $166