18 ways to save energy in your home this winter
- Install a programmable thermostat. Models are available for almost every type of home heating and cooling system, and you can save up to $180 per year in energy costs. Be sure to choose one that’s designed specifically to work with your type of system.
- Replace energy-wasting incandescent lightbulbs inside and outside your home with ENERGY STAR® qualified compact fluorescent lightbulbs. Each bulb you switch will use 75 percent less energy, save about $30 over its lifetime and pay for itself in about six months.
- Use spray foam sealant or caulk to stop air leaks around plumbing pipe penetrations through floors, walls and the foundation. Seal around holes for
electrical conduits and wires too. (Turn off the power first!)
- Caulk trim where it meets the ceiling to prevent air leaks to the attic from rooms below. Also caulk baseboards along outside walls.
- Computers, printers and other office devices consume power in the standby mode, so unplug them when they’re not in use – or plug them into a power strip and turn it off when you’re away. This applies to battery chargers for phones too.
- To stop heated air from escaping into the attic, caulk the gap around the metal box for the bathroom exhaust fan where it meets the ceiling. You’ll first need to turn off the power and remove the fan’s decorative grill or light cover.
- Adjust the threshold under each exterior door to eliminate cold air leaks. If you think there’s an air leak but you’re not quite sure, place a dollar bill on the
threshold and close the door. If you easily can pull out the dollar bill, adjust the threshold until it fits tightly against the bottom of the door.
- Replace damaged or missing weather stripping to stop air leaks around door and window frames.
- A forced-air furnace or heat pump will run longer than necessary to warm your home if it has to fight to push air through a dirty air filter, so check and
change the filter regularly during the heating season.
- Seal leaks in your heating system’s ducts using adhesive backed foil tape or duct mastic specifically designed for the job. Ironically, duct tape is not the best thing to use, because the cloth-based tape often fails when subjected to heating cycles.
- Close draperies on windows that don't receive sunlight during the day, and close all draperies at night.
- Vacuum air registers, baseboard heaters or radiators. When you see dust, dirt, pet hair and spiderwebs building up, clean these parts of your home’s heating system so they’ll help heat your home efficiently.
- Space heating probably accounts for the largest share of your utility bill during winter months, so have your heating system inspected by a professional
technician to make sure it’s operating at peak efficiency.
- Tightly close the fireplace damper whenever you don’t have a fire burning, to prevent air warmed by your home’s heating system from escaping up the chimney.
- Run your ceiling fan on low speed in a clockwise direction – as you look at it from below – during cold-weather months to move the warm air that gathers
near the ceiling back into the room. Then reduce your heating system’s thermostat by two or three degrees.
- A 3/16-inch straight-blade screwdriver is just the right size for removing the little screws in switch plates and outlet plates on exterior walls, so you can
install draft-blocking foam insulating pads behind them. (Be sure to turn o the power first!)
- Find out how much insulation you have in your attic. A small investment there can pay big dividends in cutting your power bills and keeping your home more comfortable this winter. The insulation should be about 14-18 inches in depth or rated R-49, depending on the type of insulation you choose.
- Use LED light strings for holiday decorating. Compared to holiday decorations using traditional miniature lights, LED lights consume 90 percent less energy, operate 30 times longer and stay cooler – which increases safety, especially when they’re used on wreaths and trees.