The dog days of summer may be over, but the freezing cold weather has just begun. Whereas you’ll need to worry about the cooling costs in summer, winter is the time when your heating costs start to climb. Because heating and cooling contribute to as much as half of the energy consumption in any home, EnergyStar recommends homeowners to pursue a number of smart energy-saving practices to keep their energy bills in check. This includes changing the air filter every 3 months, tuning up the HVAC equipment yearly, and investing in eco-friendly appliances. However, there are also a few things you can do right now to remain eco-friendly in winter while enjoying a reduction in energy costs:
Knowing how to properly operate your thermostat can help you to reduce your energy cost without compromising any personal comfort. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, you can save 5 percent to 15 percent a year on your heating bill by turning your thermostat back 10 degrees to 15 degrees when you are asleep or away from home. This can translate to“a savings of as much as 1 percent for each degree if the setback period is eight hours long.” For families who may be swamped up in the hustles and bustles of life (and holiday shopping spree), a programmable thermostat can seamlessly “learn your family habits” and save you the trouble of setting and resetting the system.
If you have leaky windows and doors, your home may be intruded by cold air without you ever knowing it. Depending on the severity of the situation, drafty windows can cost you anywhere between 5 percent and 30 percent of your home’s energy. Thankfully, the solutions are relatively easy and affordable. As Consumer Energy Center points out, while improperly sealed homes can lead homeowners to waste 10 to 15 percent in heating costs, homeowners can take immediate actions by weatherstripping and caulking the leakage. Besides using window treatments and coverings (like heavy drapes and curtains) to improve your home’s energy efficiency, the U.S. Department of Energy also encourages homeowners to remember to open curtains on their south-facing windows during the day to allow sunlight to heat up the home naturally.
A hot shower or bath in winter may be a much-anticipated luxury, but it also comes with a heavy price tag. When interviewed by Money US News, Marianne Cusato, the housing advisor for HomeAdvisor.com, explains that homeowners can easily winterize their home by lowering their water heater temperature from 140 degrees to 120 with no ill effect. The U.S. Department of Energy also advises homeowners to check for leaky fixtures (faucets and showerheads) to save approximately 1,661 gallons of water and up to $35 per year. As a general eco-friendly practice, homeowners can purchase quality, low-flow fixtures for approximately $10 to $20 a piece and experience a generous water-saving of 25 percent to 60 percent.
Staying warm is undoubtedly a priority in winter. However, instead of heating up the entire room, you can focus on a few popularly occupied rooms with a space heater. Doing so will eliminate the possibility of overheating your home and keeping the heat concentrated in the areas you need the most. Finally, putting on quality layers of clothes will also help you to fight the cold and maintain a reasonable room temperature.
Paul Kazlov is a metal roofing expert and has grown Global Home Improvement to be the Mid-Atlantic's largest installer of residential metal roofing, saving the everyday homeowner money on energy costs. He has installed more than 1,000 metal roofs and more than 2 million square feet of standing seam, metal slate, and metal tile, helping the Philadelphia-New Jersey-New York area. Follow Paul on Twitter @PaulKazlov. Read all of his MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.
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