When the temperatures dip down to icy-cold levels like they did in many parts of the country this winter, you may need more than just an extra sweater to stay comfortable and warm. But turning up the heat can make it hard to keep energy costs down. Try these quick tips for easy ways to save on your winter energy bills at home next winter:
- Take advantage of the sun. It's not necessary to convert your home to solar energy in order to benefit from the energy of the sun. During the daytime, open curtains and blinds on the south side of your home to let in natural heat from sunlight. Keep the warmth contained by pulling the blinds and curtains before the sun goes down.
- Replace furnace filters. Clogged heater filters will cause the unit to work inefficiently at best and malfunction at worst. At the beginning of each season, replace furnace filters. If the season is particularly cold and the heater runs often, check the filter midway through the winter too.
- Add insulation. Insulating your attic and crawlspaces can make a significant impact on the heat conservation abilities of your home. When you insulate these spaces, it helps prevent the exchange of outdoor air with your indoor air, which means that once you've warmed your house, the insulation will help keep it that way.
- Seal windows and doors. Leaky windows and doors can cause a jump in energy costs. Caulk around the edges of windows and potential entry points for cold air and install weather stripping in the cracks and crevices around doors and windows that are prone to drafts. Some areas people forget to check are the areas around outlet and switch plates on walls, and remember to check the seal around pipes, electrical conduits and vents too.
- Install a programmable thermostat. Programmable thermostats allow you to pre-determine your heater settings so that the heater runs when people are in the home, but reduces temperatures – and the workload of your heating system – when you're not at home. Reducing energy usage when you're not in the house can help make significant cuts to heating costs.
- Reduce energy usage elsewhere. Offset the fact that you're heating your home more than usual this winter by unplugging common electronic devices that are not in use. Such items include television sets, computers, microwaves, video game systems and cell phone chargers. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, such phantom energy absorbers can be costly over time; for instance, a cell phone charger consumes .26 watts in energy just sitting there waiting for you to charge something. An efficient way to do this is to use power strips or surge protectors that you can use to turn off several devices at once.
Appliances are another major source of energy consumption. Refrigerators typically use more electricity than any other household appliance. Take steps to ensure it's running efficiently by ensuring that the seals on the doors are fitted and there are no leaks. Clean off the condenser coils every six months, and remove items from the top of the fridge -- storing common items there can block heat from escaping and cause it to work harder.
What other energy saving tips does your family use in the winter to cut down on heating costs?
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