Winter chills typically lead to higher energy bills. While some additional energy expenditures can’t be avoided, there are plenty of simple projects you can undertake to prepare your home for cold weather. Remember: The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll start to see savings on your monthly energy bill.
1. Seal the leaks. Closed doors and windows can still allow cold air to enter the home. Prepare your home for cold weather by applying weather stripping and/or caulk around leaky doors or windows. Locking your windows will ensure a tight fit (and prevent burglars from gaining entry). You can also place special window insulation film on windows.
2. Insulate the attic. Having adequate insulation in your attic is one of the most important things you can do to prepare your home for the cold weather. Inspect your attic; if you find the insulation is level with or below the floor joists, you need to add more.
3. Take care of your furnace. Have your furnace inspected once a year by a licensed professional. Also make sure to change your furnace filters once a month to keep your furnace running efficiently.
4. Give vents room to breathe. Push aside any furniture that may be obstructing heating vents. This will allow your furnace to heat your home more efficiently.
5. Let the sun help. Keep shades and curtains open during the day – particularly on the south side of the home – so sunlight can provide additional heat. Lower shades once the sun sets.
6. Embrace lower temperatures. For each degree you lower your thermostat, you reduce your energy bill by two percent. So put on a sweater and start saving some real money.
7. Embrace lower temperatures (part 2). Lower the temperature on your water heater to 120 F and you’ll save 7 to 11 percent on your energy bill. Some water heaters can’t go this low, so it’s a good idea to consult your owner’s manual before changing the temperature.
8. Invest in a programmable thermostat. Programmable thermostats let you preset the temperatures you want your home at during certain days and times. Most models are manual, but new smart home technology lets you control your home from your smartphone. You can lower your home’s temperature while you’re at work and even program the thermostat to raise the temperature before you return home. Just remember your pets before you lower the temperature too far.
9. Watch your water usage. A hot shower feels great after braving icy winds. But showers typically account for up to two-thirds of your water heating costs. By cutting your shower time in half, you can reduce your water heating costs by 33 percent.
10. Don’t forget your fireplace. When it’s in use, your fireplace is a source of heat. When it’s not, the chimney is a tunnel for cold air. Closing the damper whenever your fireplace is not in use will prevent cold air from entering your home.