Save Energy in Your Home This Winter

A house in winter.

When you check your calendar and see October on the page, you know winter is just around the corner. Winter brings lots of fun things like skiing or snowshoeing on bright, clear days or quiet family evenings in front of the fire.

Unfortunately, winter also brings some not-so-nice things, such as cold weather and long, dark nights that take lots of electricity and heat to get through comfortably. If you would like to save some energy around your home this winter, here are some ideas for you.

The Big Things: Ventilation, Insulation, and Weatherstripping

One sure way to save energy is to be sure your home heating system is working properly. Have a qualified professional check your furnace or other heating systems to be sure it’s working properly and as energy-efficient as possible.

Make sure the caulking and weather stripping around your doors and windows is intact and doesn’t have any gaps or openings. Even a small draft around a window or door can let lots of expensive warm air escape from your home.

Adding some extra insulation to your attic is relatively inexpensive, easy to do, and will greatly reduce the cost of heating your home.

Sweat the Small Stuff

Cover the inside of your windows with clear plastic-film window coverings (available at home and hardware stores). They will act as a second window and provide a barrier to keep in heat and block out any cold from coming through the window glass.

Adjust your programmable thermostat such that the temperature in your home is reduced at night or during the day when no one is in the house.

Close the damper on your fireplace, so hot air doesn’t escape up the chimney. You can save even more energy by blocking off the opening with glass doors or even by installing a piece of decorated plywood to cover the opening when not in use.

Reverse the direction of your ceiling fans. A ceiling fan should turn clockwise and be set to run at a slower speed in the winter. This will pull the cooler air toward the ceiling causing the warmer air that normally collects near the ceiling to be distributed around the room.

Change your incandescent light bulbs for compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs), which use as little as 20% of the energy of an old-style incandescent bulb and have the added benefit of lasting up to five-time longer. LED lighting is becoming increasingly popular also as energy savers, being much environmentally friendlier than CFLs.

During the winter, keep the humidity level in your home under 40%. High humidity levels will leave you feeling colder than if the humidity levels were low, tempting you to turn up the furnace. To understand this, you have to know that damp air transfers heat more quickly than dry air, thus allowing more heat to escape your body and leaving you feeling colder. The humidity level in your home can be easily controlled or lowered by installing a dehumidifier. The humidity can also be expelled from the kitchen by using the stove's exhaust fan while a pot is boiling or running the bathroom fan while showering or taking a steaming bath.