Easy Ways to Save Energy When it’s Cold Outside
1. Natural light naturally heats
It’s free to heat your home during the day by simply opening the curtains on your south-facing windows. Close the drapes when the sun goes down to keep the heat inside.
2. Shorter days = More light when you’re home = Get LEDs
The days are shorter in the fall and winter. It will soon be dark when you arrive home from work. It will be dark when your alarm goes off in the morning. Hence, you will be turning on your home’s lights more often during the fall and winter months. Get LEDs, pronto.
3. Run your ceiling fan clockwise
It’s all about strategic airflow. In the summer, run your ceiling fan counter-clockwise to push the warm air up. The opposite holds true in the fall; run your ceiling fan clockwise at a low-speed to push the heat downwards.
4. Service your Solar Hot Water system
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, water heating is responsible for 18% of your energy bill; one of the highest energy consumers in a home. If you have a Solar Hot Water system installed on your property, you know this step is highly specialized. Before the cold really hits, call and schedule an appointment with your solar thermal contractor to perform a maintenance check on your system. The contractor will ensure your system is winter-proof. This includes checking the glycol level so it doesn’t freeze during the winter.
5. Service your water heater
If you haven’t gotten around to installing a Solar Hot Water system, it’s important to service your water heater. If its surface is hot or even warm, the heater is overheating and wasting energy. The slightest maintenance adjustment can make a world of difference when saving money on hot water in the winter. The California Energy Commission reports consumer savings are 7-11% when setting water heater temperatures to 120°F.
6. Service your hydronic radiant heating system
Get the maximum return from your highly efficient hydronic radiant heating system. These systems need an annual maintenance check to be sure the pressure, temperature, pumps, glycol (if applicable), etc., will keep you warm and comfortable during the cold months. Be sure to contact a licensed, specialized, and experienced contractor.
7. Maintain your heating system
The U.S. Department of Energy states almost half of a building’s energy use is attributed to space heating and cooling. If you don’t have a hydronic radiant heating system, your hot airflow is quickly rising to the ceiling. Airflow, and energy use, decreases when your filter is dirty. Checking and replacing your natural gas heater’s filter once a month, can save up to 5% on heating costs. This also holds true for electric and propane heaters. For wood and Pellet Burning Heaters, clean the flue vent and the inside of the appliance on a regular basis. With a forced air system, it’s critical to make sure the ducts are well insulated and sealed.
Speaking of insulation, staying warm means keeping the heat inside your home. For a minimal cost, you can upgrade the insulation in your exterior walls, crawlspaces, basements and attics. If you do not have the latest energy efficient windows (which can cut heat loss 50%), an extremely easy idea is to apply foam weather stripping for your doors and windows. It may not look as pretty, but it gets the job done. Taping clear plastic film to the inside of your window frames can also do the trick.
9. Take care of air leaks
Heat from your home can escape out of the weirdest places. By sealing air leaks, you can save up to 20% on your heating bill, and the cost of materials is typically under $20. Seal the air leaks around utility plumbing penetrations (aka, the pipe ‘cut-throughs’), gaps around the recessed lights in insulated ceilings, electrical outlets, chimneys, as well as unfinished spaces behind closets and cupboards.
10. Drain your Solar Pool Heating system
If you like taking a dip in your pool and/or spa during the cold months, you need to be sure your Solar Pool Heating system is in working order and highly efficient. This is another specialized maintenance check your Solar Thermal contractor must complete. The contractor’s maintenance checks will include tasks such as draining the system if it doesn’t automatically drain, checking the pumps, filters, and more.
11. Adjust your thermostat
You can save about 5% on your heating costs for every degree below the 60-70 degree range, according to the California Energy Commission. By turning your thermostat down to 55 degrees at night, you could save 5-20% of your heating costs. Set your thermostat to 68 degrees or lower during the day and evening. Plus, everyone wants an excuse to snuggle under a warm blanket.
12. Only Heat the rooms you use
Close and seal vents in your guest rooms, storage areas, and other rooms you rarely use. Direct the airflow to the rooms you use often in order to save energy. According to a U.S. News report, the average bill in the U.S. drops $200 if you heat rooms you use in addition to lowering your thermostat to 62 degrees.
13. Don’t block out your heat
Furniture, drapes, and dampers in front of your heating vents are a big no-no. It’s not only an incredible fire hazard, but these objects will also keep the warm air from entering the room.
14. Humidify your room
In the summer, you de-humidify. In the fall, you want to humidify. Moist air holds heat and feels warmer (think, Alabama in the summer). You will now feel way more comfortable when lowering your thermostat temperature. You can also increase the humidity in your apartment with a collection of house plants.
15. Don’t exhaust your exhaust fan
Exhaust fans suck up the hot and humid air in your kitchen and bathroom. Only use them when necessary. Remember, humidity is an energy saver in the winter.
16. Don’t let your fireplace cool you down
A fireplace damper works like a window. If the damper is open when the fireplace it off, it will suck all the warm air out of the house, and up through the chimney. Of course, when the fireplace is on, open the dampers. If you do not have dampers, close the doors leading to the room and open the nearest window about an inch.
17. A sweater inside ain’t so bad
With the money you’ll save on your heating bill, you will most likely be able to buy more sweaters. Your choice.