Winter is almost here, temperatures are dropping and this means your energy costs are going to climb. Fall is the ideal time to get ready for winter by improving the Energy Efficiency of your home. There is a wide range of actions you can take to increase your home's Energy Efficiency. It might seem a little overwhelming to take care of everything at first. These 17 energy-saving tips will help you start using energy more efficiently, especially during winter, and stay warm in the process.
While It might seem a little overwhelming to take care of everything at first. These 17 energy-saving tips will help you start using energy more efficiently, especially during winter, and stay warm in the process.
The first thing you want to do before trying to make any major changes in your house is to talk to the experts. There are certified professionals you can hire to perform different tests in your house to determine whether your energy consumption is efficient or not. As winter brings different problems we might have forgotten during warmer weather, like improperly sealed windows producing heat loss. The home energy audit will give you a clear road map about what you’ll need to do and most importantly how to do it correctly.
A good way to get your house to warm up for free is by using solar energy in the most efficient way possible. You can accomplish this by solar tempering your house. You might not know it, but your house might be solar tempered to some degree already. That’s because solar tempering means designing or making incremental changes to an existing home to use as much solar energy as possible to naturally heat your house. For example, windows facing south will receive more solar energy even in winter climates. Always be on the lookout for potential passive solar benefits in your home.
Insulate your windows
Your home’s windows are a great place to look for energy savings. Even if your windows catch all the sun the world can handle, they are not going to keep you warm if cold drafts keep getting in. There are multiple ways to do this, from specialty films you apply directly to the glass to caulking and insulating areas around the window. You should insulate your windows to avoid wasting energy from heat that is escaping through unprotected windows.
Install a Smart Thermostat
Smart home technology and more specifically Smart thermostats are a great way to make your home more energy-efficient. There are many different models, but most feature the same characteristics. They will automatically adjust the temperature in your home, they can be programmed to turn the heat off when you leave for work and if they are app compatible you can adjust the temperature using your phone, even if you are away. Most smart thermostats will also work with cloud-based voice services like Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri. While a regular thermostat requires constant adjustment, whether it gets colder or warmer, whether you are leaving or coming back to your house. Eventually, you are going to forget to adjust it and leave your thermostat at a higher temperature while at work for the day wasting a lot of energy. With a smart thermostat, You can automatically set the thermostat to lower temperature while you're away or adjust the temperature from your mobile device.
Seal Air Leaks
No matter how much effort you put into improving energy efficiency, there is no way you will keep your home warm if there are air leaks. Leaks can appear in the roof, on the floor, walls, doors practically everywhere. A thermographic inspection performed as part of your home energy audit will help you discover and eliminate those pesky leaks. If you don’t want to go to this extent, a thermal leak detection kit can help you identify spots in your home where warm air is escaping so you can quickly seal them up. Our favorite is the Black & Decker Model No. TLD100. This Infrared thermometer detects wall surface temperatures in order to spot hidden energy leaks, you can set a reference temperature to show deviations, and as you aim the detector at walls around your home, the LED will change colors when it detects hot or cold spots.
Maintain Your Heating System
Once winter arrives, your main weapon against the cold is your heating system. Do not take it for granted, besides checking and replacing the filter, annual cleaning, and servicing by an HVAC professional is a great idea. Gas furnaces can develop carbon monoxide leaks and failing to keep them clean and operating correctly can be costly. The buildup of dirt, dust, and debris can be a health concern especially for those with asthma but this build-up can also negatively impact the efficiency of the entire system. A dirty blower and motor will increase the furnace’s load and cause undue wear on various components, Ultimately causing the motor to fail.
Stop using your fireplace
The wood-burning fireplace is a great place to hang stockings but really takes a bite out of your home's Energy Efficiency. In general, a wood-burning fireplace is very inefficient. drafts from a fireplace can pull the warm air up through the chimney causing other rooms to be cooler. Additionally, if you are burning wood in a fireplace while your furnace is running, it can make your furnace work much harder in order to maintain a constant temperature throughout the rest of the house. And finally, old, non epa certified wood heaters produce 20 times the amount of air pollution. If you heat with wood there is a wide range of options that work better than the old wood-burning fireplace. Take a look at the EPA's website in order to choose which option is best for you.
Remove the sediment from your water heater
Rust, sand and other sediments can settle and accumulate in the base of your water heaters tank. This layer of sediment makes the water heater use more energy in order to heat the water. This causes the unit to operate less efficiently and eventually causes the metal at the bottom of the tank to fatigue and ultimately leak. There should be a spigot at the bottom of your water heater, attach a hose and drain the water from the tank until it runs clear. Draining the sediment at the bottom of the tank is the best way to keep your water heater running efficiently for the life of the unit. One way to avoid this altogether is to install a tankless water heater.
Insulate your water heater
Standby heat loss is heat lost by your water heater while it is storing hot water. The water heater maintains a constant temperature so that when a hot water faucet is opened it can deliver the desired temperature hot water to that faucet. According to the Department of Energy, you can reduce standby heat losses by 25%–45% and save about 7%–16% in water heating costs by insulating your water heater. Most home improvement stores sell pre-cut insulation jackets that homeowners can install on their own.
Start using LED lights
Replace your old light bulbs with cost-efficient LED lights. LED’s are a significant investment upfront but can save you up to 20% on your electric bill every month. The early complaints about LED lights were the price and the color. Both of these issues have become less of a problem. Prices of LED bulbs have come way down and manufacturers have warmed up the color of these lights. Exterior lighting is another great place to use LED lights, especially during the holidays, if you use a lot of lights to decorate for Christmas, you should minimize the impact on your electric bill by using LED lights.
Add insulation to your home
You already know about insulation if you have taken care of your windows and water heater system. But you can take it to the next level and insulate your home for heat. There are multiple ways to do it and take care of different parts of your house like your attic or basement, trapping your heat inside your house and making it warmer for less money. There are different ways to do it and the price range may vary. A cheap method is using insulation blankets in-between walls and open spaces. The most expensive one involves the same method but using liquid foam that becomes rigid giving your house an airtight status. Insulating your basement is another great way to save on energy costs, even if the space is unfinished. Basements can be both warm and dry but you will need to first make sure there are no leaks or penetrations in the basement floors or walls. You want to make sure you are not creating an environment for mold to flourish before you start insulating. Next, you’ll want to choose an insulation that will help keep things both warm and dry. The best choice is a polyurethane spray form. This product can be applied directly to the concrete walls, helping keep water out and warm air in.
Winterize your sprinkler system
If you have a sprinkler system it is best to completely winterize the system before temperatures start to freeze. You not only have to stop using your sprinkler system but you also have to remove the water that remains inside of it. The best, cheapest way to do it is using an air compressor to force the water out of the sprinkler system. If you forget to do this, water will eventually freeze inside causing damage. This can cost you big time when you fire the system back up in the spring. If the system develops leaks due to frozen pipes it can cost you a lot of money in wasted water.
Purchase Energy Star products
You can check the Energy Star website and improve your energy efficiency by purchasing Energy Star certified products. Energy Star certifies a wide variety of household products such as smart thermostats, ventilation fans, multiple water heaters, and many more products to improve your energy efficiency. When it's time to replace old or worn-out appliances, start by looking at Energy Star products.
Change your HVAC system air filter
Your HVAC system controls the temperature inside your home. It also filters out dust and air impurities that might try to get into your house. These filters need to be changed frequently, depending on the use you may need to change your HVAC filters up to four times per year to avoid problems. You should change your air filter every three months in order to prevent your HVAC system overworking -because of a dirty filter- to provide the standard airflow. If you suspect the quality of air inside your home is not safe, you should consider an Indoor Air Quality Test.
Switch your ceiling fan’s blade rotation
A good way to make a small change that will have a big payoff is reversing your fan’s blades to perform a clockwise rotation. Because hot air tends to rise to the ceiling, you want to do this little switch so that way your fan will push warm air back down. Most fans have a small vertical switch on the side. This switch determines which way the fan blades rotate. During the winter months, the blades should rotate in a clockwise direction.
Keep all of your heating vents open
Common sense tells us that if a room isn’t being used, we should close off the heating vent in that room to save on heating costs. This is actually really bad for most HVAC systems. Modern HVAC systems are designed to heat and cool the entire home. Closing vents increases the air pressure inside the system. This in turn increases the amount of leakage from the ductwork. The HVAC system relies on airflow to properly function. Reducing the airflow may cause your burners to shut down in order to avoid overheating and this can cause damage to the system. Additionally, closing off vents can actually drive up your energy costs.
Wear winter clothes inside
Everyone likes to be comfortable in their home. And most comfortable clothes are probably summer clothes. But you can’t be wearing shirts and shorts in the winter if you want to keep yourself warm unless you want to spend an enormous amount of energy. Wear thicker clothes to keep you warm when you are at home and you won’t need to spend as much energy to warm up the house.
These are just 17 ideas to help make your home more energy-efficient. There are of course a lot of renewable energy options available to homeowners today from Solar and geothermal to wind and more. No matter what type of energy options you choose, it's important to make sure you are using it efficiently.