With the temperatures dropping, you may be worried about a soon-to-come snowy commute or potential holiday season stress. No matter what is on your mind, before you know it, your winter energy bills will be pouring in. For many of us, these are higher than what we got in the summertime, throwing your monthly budget out of whack and even possibly putting you into debt.
Some of your energy use may be hard or even impossible to curb, but there are plenty of things you can do now to prepare your home for the cold weather. Your wallet will certainly thank you. Check out these tips to help you conserve energy and save money during the cold weather this year.
1. Consider an Audit
Before you make any changes, it is good to know where you stand. You can hire professionals or speak with your local energy company about getting an energy audit to evaluate your space for efficiency. He or she will test your home’s energy loss and generate a report highlighting some issues in your home. Some companies offer an audit for free.
2. Insulate & Assess
The biggest way to cut back this winter is keeping outside air out and inside air in. Look for gaps and cracks in your foundation, windowpanes and doorframes. You can also look for places to add insulation, from your attic to your pipes.
3. Tune the Heating System
Energy costs are often closely related to your heating system. If you have inefficiencies with your furnace, the price can jump even higher. Every fall, it can be a good idea to change or clean your heating filters and check on them once a month while it is being used heavily.
4. Stock Up in Fall
Don’t wait until the snow starts to buy what you need. Restock your winter essentials like salt, ice melt, shovels and blowers now so you are more prepared and often get a better price. It can also be a good idea to clean your gutters and leave mowed (instead of raked) leaves around because the small pieces will decompose among the grass and nourish your lawn through the coming season.
5. Seek & Seal Leaks
Apply stripping and/or caulk around windows and doors to prevent that cold air from blowing into your home. You can even place special window insulation film on your windows to protect your home’s warmth further. Lastly, make sure the damper on your fireplace chimney is closed when you’re not using it.
6. Program Your Thermostat
A smart thermostat allows you to set lower temperatures at certain days and times. You can leave it warm for the morning and when you get home from work, while letting it drop while you’re out of the house at work. You can also try setting the temperature slightly lower and instead put on a sweater. You may find you don’t need as warm a temperature as you may think. You can even add layers through indoor decorating — pillows, rugs, mats, and blankets can serve by both adding warmth and aesthetic value.
7. Check the Lights
The less you take advantage of (free!) sunshine, the more electricity you will need to use. There is no time like the present to buy some CFL and LED lights for your home. Also take advantage of the sunlight when it is there by keeping shades and curtains open during the day, especially on the south side of your home. Then close them when the sun goes down to keep the heat in.
Even if you don’t have the money or time to institute all of these energy- and money-saving tips, it’s a good idea to do what you can for now and plan for some of these improvements into next year’s budget. Preparing your home for winter can make you more comfortable both physically and economically.
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