Consider these eight energy-saving tips below, so you aren’t sweating when your winter gas bills come, and as the weather warms, evaluate your winterizing measures to see which ones make sense to maintain through the spring and summer months.
1. Program your thermostat
This energy-saving tip costs you nothing but time: Set your thermostat as low as is comfortable in the winter (some go as low as 55 degrees!). For each degree you raise your thermostat setting, your fuel bill climbs 3%.
Consider slipping into a sweater before you crank up the temperature. Don’t forget to program the thermostat to a lower temperature during the hours you are away from home, either.
If your thermostat allows you to program different temperature zones, turn the heat down or off in rooms that aren’t being used.
2. Maintain filters and heating system equipment
Regularly clean or replace the filters for your furnace and central heating system. Likewise, make sure to clean warm-air registers, baseboard heaters, and radiators—ensuring that they are clean and not blocked by debris or trapped air.
If you’re not sure how to bleed trapped air from a hot-water heat radiator or flush the water heater, call a professional. They also can perform a routine check of your central heating/cooling duct system for leaks.
A simple task like cleaning equipment and ensuring it’s not leaking or obstructed by furniture, carpet, or drapes can improve your system’s energy efficiency by 10% while extending the life of your equipment.
3. Install radiator reflectors
If you use radiators to heat your home, placing heat-resistant radiator reflectors between exterior walls and the radiators will help prevent you from heating walls unnecessarily and can reduce heat loss.
4. Add insulation
Wrapping insulation around pipes and your water heater can help minimize heat loss as water runs from the water heater to your faucets. By adding insulation, you won’t have to wait as long for hot water, you will conserve water, and you can save up to 10% of your total energy costs. Be sure to leave the air intake vent uncovered on the water heater.
5. Seal openings
It’s foolish to spend money heating your home if the warm air can escape. Caulk and weather-strip around exterior seams, cracks, and openings. Pay extra attention around windows and at points where various exterior materials like wood, brick, and vinyl siding meet.
On the inside, caulking and weather-stripping around windows and door frames will cut down on drafts. A draft guard along the bottom of an exterior door can also help prevent heat from escaping.
If you’re not using your chimney, close the damper. Additionally, air sealing and properly insulating the attics, walls, floors over crawl spaces, and accessible basement rim joists can save up to 10% of total energy costs.
6. Replace windows
Consider replacing old windows with high-efficiency Energy Star double-pane windows with protective coatings that reflect heat back into your home during winter. This can reduce your heating and cooling costs by up to 15%.
If such a retrofit is not in your budget, cover your windows with clear plastic film. At a typical cost of $4 to $6 per window, the film creates an insulating air pocket between the plastic and the window, reducing heat loss through windows.
7. Use fans wisely to cut costs
It may sound simple, but using fans judiciously can save energy. In just one hour, kitchen, bath and other ventilating fans can pull out a houseful of warm air. So turn the ventilation fans off as soon as they have done the job.
Aim keep the humidity level in your home between 30% and 60%. In rooms where you have a ceiling fan, reverse the direction so that they move clockwise and push hot air near the ceiling toward the floor.
8. Adjust drapes
This is another free energy-saving tip: When it’s cold outside, keep drapes and shades on your south-facing windows open during the day to allow sunlight to enter your home, and then you can close them at night to reduce the chill you may feel from cold windows.