Winter can wreak havoc on your energy bill. Fewer daylight hours means more lights and lamps, and the cold temperatures require more heating. Not only that, but the holidays can increase your energy expenses thanks to decorative lighting, baking, and more.
The U.S. Department of Energy shares several tips for helping you save energy—and cut costs—during the winter.
Watch Your Thermostat
Lower the heat by 10 or 15 degrees at night and while you’re at work. When you’re home, keep it at the lowest setting you find comfortable. A smart thermostat makes this very easy, but you can do it manually, as well.
U.S. News & World Report also recommends sealing the vents and closing off any rooms you don’t use on a regular basis, like a guest bedroom.
U.S. News also suggests bundling up at home. Wearing sweaters and socks, and keeping blankets handy in the living room can stop you from turning up the thermostat. Likewise, wearing warm pajamas and adding an extra blanket to your bed can help you sleep comfortably all night long, even with the lower setting on the thermostat.
Seal Air Leaks
Don’t let that warm air escape through cracks and poorly sealed doors and windows! Check around your pipes, chimneys, recessed lights, and unfinished spaces. Caulking or weather stripping can be used around doors and windows. You can also use a well-secured sheet of plastic over your windows in the winter months.
Popular Mechanics suggests adjusting your door thresholds, checking your electrical boxes for drafts, and using a chimney balloon in your chimney to prevent warm air from escaping when the fireplace isn’t in use. Make sure your heating vents are clean and clear: move any furniture that might block the flow of warm air.
Maintain Your Heater
Replace filters as recommended. If you use a wood-burning or pellet stove, clean it regularly. Schedule a maintenance visit for your furnace. A well-functioning heating system is an efficient heating system … and that helps you save money.
Use the Sun
Mother Nature’s heater! Keep the curtains on your south-facing windows open during the day so your home can absorb as much heat from the sun as possible. Close those curtains at night. Popular Mechanics adds that you should cut away any shrubs or branches that would block the sunlight from coming through the window.
Turn Down Your Water Heater
You don’t need scalding water from the tap … in fact, it can be a bit dangerous or at least uncomfortable. The U.S. Department of Energy suggests setting your water heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
Upgrade Your Holiday Lights
Get ready for next year with LED light strings, which use at least 75 percent less energy … and they last longer too. Take care to turn the lights off when you’re not enjoying them, or set them on a timer so you don’t have to remember to turn them off.
Use Your Ceiling Fans
U.S. News & World Report notes that “Ceiling fans can be used strategically to achieve better airflow: counter-clockwise will push hot air up in the summer and clockwise will trap heat inside to keep your rooms warmer during cooler months. Turn your ceiling fan on a low setting to gently push hot air back down.”
Upgrade Your Appliances
This is energy savings that can last you all year long. Newer appliances are made to higher standards of energy efficiency. Look for Energy Star certified appliances, which exceed the federal minimum standards for efficiency.
Small changes can add up to big results when it comes to saving energy and money. When you incorporate several of these strategies, you may notice big savings with your next energy bill.
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