Grab a sweater, instead of turning up the thermostat!
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.
To stop heated air from escaping into the attic, caulk the gap around the metal box for the bathroom ex-haust fan where it meets the ceiling. You’ll first need to turn off the power and remove the fan’s decora-tive grill or light cover. Instead of leaving a light in your home burning 24 hours a day, use a plug-in timer to turn on a lamp while you’re away.
Weather-strip the edges (and insulate the back) of the hatch or door to the crawl space.
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 home’s thermostat setting by 2 or 3 degrees.
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.
Replace energy-wasting incandescent lightbulbs inside and outside your home with Energy Star® quali-fied compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs) or light-emitting diodes (LEDs). Each bulb you switch will use about 75 percent less energy, save $30 or more over its lifetime and pay for itself long before the end of its service life.
Caulk trim where it meets the ceiling to prevent air leaks to the attic from rooms below.
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.
Replace damaged or missing weather stripping to stop air leaks around door and window frames.
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.
Vacuum air registers, baseboard heaters or radiators. When you see dust, dirt, pet hair and lint building up, clean these parts of your home’s heating system so they’ll help efficiently heat your home.
Install draft-blocking foam insulating pads behind outlet and switch plates on outside walls. (Be sure to turn off the power first!)
Adjust the threshold under each exterior door to eliminate cold air leaks. If the threshold isn’t adjustable and you feel a cold air draft, replace the threshold with a new one in the appropriate style. 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.
Seal leaks in your heating system’s ducts using adhesive-backed foil tape or duct mastic specifically de-signed 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.
Plug in child-safety caps to minimize the amount of cold air coming through the sockets in outlets.
Make sure all the heat you’re paying for reaches its destination! Move furniture that’s blocking air regis-ters or baseboard heaters, preventing warmed air from being distributed throughout the room.
Close draperies on windows that don't receive sunlight during the day, and close all draperies at night.
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.
To prevent air leaks, make sure the windows really are closed all the way. If you can’t latch the win-dows, check for accumulated dirt and debris where the sash meets the weather stripping.
Electric water heaters often have two thermostats – one for the upper heating element and one for the lower heating element. Make sure both thermostats are set to 120 degrees, which most people to find satisfactory. Before removing the access panels on the water heater to reach the thermostats, turn off the electricity at the circuit breaker panel. Then adjust both thermostats to the same level to prevent one el-ement from overloading and prematurely wearing out.
Most new flat-screen TVs include energy-saving features you can adjust from the setup menus, includ-ing a sleep timer, multiple on-off timers and screen brightness. Use the latter feature to reduce power consumption at night, when the screen doesn’t need to be as bright as it does during the daytime for fa-tigue-free viewing.
Fluff bulky items such as towels, sheets and heavy clothing before you put them in the clothes dryer. Then you’ll be able to run a shorter cycle, because these items will dry faster.
Seal the hole where the bathtub drain comes down – and any other holes for plumbing or electrical wir-ing in the basement ceiling – with caulk or spray foam sealant. You may need to use a filler material for larger holes.
Turn off the lights (and the ceiling fan and television) when you leave the room!
Shut off power to your water heater when you go on vacation – even if you’re only going to be away from home for a few days.
Get leaks under control! A leak in a hot-water faucet (or the hot-water side of a single-handle faucet) that fills a cup in 10 minutes can waste more than 3,000 gallons of heated water a year. Whenever you’re not using your central vacuum system, it’s using power in the standby mode – just like most devices in your home that use a remote control. To save energy when you’re not using the central vac, unplug its power unit.
Install motion-sensing outdoor light fixtures that keep security lights off until they’re needed.
Allow cooked foods to cool before putting them in the refrigerator. Adding hot foods will make the compressor run overtime to compensate for the higher temperature in the refrigerated compartment. Use shallow containers so the foods will cool more quickly too.
Since most of the energy used by a dishwasher is for heating water, run it only with a full load.
Leaky window? Install a plastic film window insulating kit.