5 Energy-Saving Tips for Colder Weather

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The days are getting shorter and winter will be here before you know it, so it’s a good time to prepare your home for the colder weather. Tempting though it may be to crank up the central heating as soon as you feel a chill, you’d be wise to give some thought to energy efficiency first.

Fortunately, you don’t have to choose between warmth and energy efficiency. If you combine smart habits and systems, it’s possible to have both. Take a look:

1. Schedule a Home Energy Audit

Did you know you can cut your energy bill by as much as $600 a year by taking simple steps to improve your home’s energy efficiency? Simply by eliminating drafts, you may save up to 30 percent of your home’s heat loss!

The best way to know if and where your home is losing heat to drafts is to schedule a home energy audit with a professional in your area. Your local utility may offer free audits, and private contractors can charge between $200 and $650, according to Angie’s List.

“A home energy audit, also known as a home energy assessment, is the first step to assess how much energy your home consumes and to evaluate what measures you can take to make your home more energy efficient,” Energy.gov explains. “An assessment will show you problems that may, when corrected, save you significant amounts of money over time.”

With your results in hand, you can prioritize repairs and upgrades, which may be as simple as installing weather-stripping in key locations or replacing an old furnace filter.

2.Tune Up Your Heating System

“HVAC systems are mechanical, so like all mechanical systems, they do need to be maintained,” home improvement expert Murray Anderson writes. “A thorough professional tune-up will cost you $100 or more and is definitely something you should do every few years. However, you can do annual maintenance yourself and save some of that money.”

Anderson suggests the following steps for a DIY HVAC tune-up.

  • Inspect your furnace for obvious issues like black soot or combustion residue around the burner. The flames on a gas furnace should be steady and blue; not yellow, orange, or flickering.
  • Make sure your furnace isn’t filled with dust. Turn off the furnace and let it cool down, then open the side panels and vacuum out the dust. Use a damp rag to clean the blades of the blower fan and areas the vacuum can’t reach.
  • You’ll also want to check the electric motor and fan belt for any cracks or tension problems. If you notice anything suspicious, call in a professional for a look.

A DIY inspection and tune-up can be fine, but you’d be smart to have a professional inspect your furnace every few years to make sure you don’t overlook anything.

3. Pay Attention to Window Treatments

Did you know that blinds and other window treatments play a key role in maintaining a comfortable temperature in an energy-efficient home? If you’re planning some energy efficiency renovations, now’s a good time to consider your window treatments.

In spaces that have large windows, thermal drapes are often the best option. They reduce heat loss during the winter and keep cold drafts at bay.

Although any window covering provides more protection against heat loss than no covering, certain types of blinds and shades can provide both insulation and UV protection.

4. Use Your Thermostat Correctly

Follow these tips from Energy.gov to manage your thermostat for maximum energy efficiency and comfort in your home.

  • When home and awake, keep the thermostat set as low as is comfortable.
  • If you regularly dial the thermostat back 10 to 15 degrees for eight hours at a time, you’ll save roughly 10 percent a year on heating costs. Before you go to bed, lower the temperature on your thermostat, or invest in a smart thermostat that manages temperatures all day.
  • If you have a heat pump, always maintain a moderate setting or use a programmable thermostat designed for use with heat pumps.

Whether or not you have a heat pump, you might consider getting a programmable thermostat. Many people find that it’s easier to program the thermostat than to remember to turn the heat down when they’re away at work or sleeping.

5. Reduce Heat Loss From Fireplace

If you have a fireplace, keep the damper closed when no fire is burning to prevent unnecessary heat loss. If you don’t use your fireplace at all, think about plugging and sealing the chimney flue. Close the flue when you are the fireplace is not in use.

Be Willing To Compromise

Managing your home’s temperature so that everyone in the family is comfortable and your energy consumption stays low can be challenging. It requires a cooperative effort on the part of everyone in your home. Make sure everyone understands the reasoning behind the thermostat settings so that heat cheating is minimized. For those of use who tend to feel the cold more, add an extra layer of clothing, as well as cozy slippers and afghans, before you turn up the heat.

Feature image courtesy of jill111 at Pixabay

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Anna Johansson

Anna is a freelance writer, researcher and business consultant. A columnist for Entrepreneur.com, HuffingtonPost.com and more, Anna loves enjoying the great outdoors with her family. Follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn.