Out with the cold! Go green and keep the drafts out and the warm air inside your home with these simple energy-saving solutions.
As fun as the holiday season is, it also brings with it unwelcomed guests — and we aren’t talking about your in-laws. For many of us, winter means drafty windows, drastically fluctuating indoor temperatures and high heating bills.
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To help save money and stay warm, we’ve compiled some easy energy-saving tips to make this winter cozier for your family and guests alike.
Cover drafty windows.
Using a heavy-duty plastic sheet or frame to cover the inside of your window frames during the cold winter months can help keep out drafts, the U.S. Department of Energy suggests. Heavy curtains or window treatments can also help prevent the cold winds from sneaking into your home.
Find seals and leaks.
Add caulk or weather stripping to seal air leaks around doors and windows, which can prevent your energy bill from creeping up too high. Also take the time to investigate and seal air leaks in the gaps around your plumbing, chimneys and recessed lighting as well as behind cupboards and closets in unfinished spaces.
Adjust the temperature.
Another great winter energy conservation tip is to set your thermostat to the lowest setting that’s comfortable while you’re home and awake, the Department of Energy advises. The agency reports that you can save roughly 10% annually on heating and cooling bills by lowering the thermostat temp 10° to 15° for eight hours while you’re sleeping or at work.
You could also install a programmable thermostat to set the temperature automatically.
“Many people are migrating over to a programmable thermostat, which allows the homeowner to create savings through optimum temperature adjustments,” says Allen Gast, director of product management for HVAC systems at Sears Home Improvement. “Our programmable thermostats also have a manual override feature that allows the consumer to have the best of both worlds.”
Prep water heaters and pipes.
Keep your water heater from having to work double time by insulating the pipes. It’s easy — just wrap them with an insulating blanket. This will keep heaters from having to work harder to provide your family with hot water on super-cold days.
Perform a pre-season inspection.
All your systems should have a pre-season check performed by a licensed and insured HVAC contractor, Gast says. In fact, you should do this twice a year — before the hot and cold weather sets in.
Winter presents many options for heating sources, from heat pumps and furnaces to boilers. Because they all require different degrees of mechanical expertise, make sure to have a professional check them out on-site.
An HVAC inspection should include:
Checking thermostat settings
Tightening all gas and electric connections
Lubricating all moving parts
Finally, make sure your heating system starts, operates and shuts off properly.
Keep your filters clean.
A dirty filter in your HVAC system can increase energy costs and damage your equipment, leading to early failure.
“Inspect, clean or change air filters once a month in your central air conditioner, furnace and/or heat pump,” Gast advises. Homeowners should also make sure there’s no debris in or around the furnace and boiler.
Upgrade if need be.
Changes in Window and HVAC technology move quickly. If the changes above aren’t getting you the results you hope for or if your HVAC system or windows are over 10 years old, replacing one (or both) of them with new, energy-efficient options from Sears Home Improvement can mean big utility savings all year long.