Have you noticed how high your energy bills have been this winter? Part of the reason is that your energy costs have spiked. Another reason may have to do entirely with your personal habits. While energy prices are beyond your control, your personal habits are not. Let’s take a look at some tips on how you can conserve energy this winter and save money immediately.
1. Tune up your heating system. When was the last time that you had a professional inspect your furnace or your HVAC system? Perhaps when it was installed or when you had a problem. What you should do is put your heater on an annual check up schedule, one where a professional comes out to inspect and tune up your unit. Chances are the filter needs replacing, belts may be frayed and air ducts could be clogged. If your heater is not working optimally it will consume more energy.
2. Use a programable thermostat. That old manual thermostat in your hallway is costing you money. What you need to do is replace it with an electronic thermostat, one that can be programmed to automatically adjust temperatures throughout the day and while you are asleep. You will recoup the cost of this thermostat immediately as you set it to rise and fall automatically.
3. Turn on your ceiling fans. You use ceiling fans to cool your home in the summer, but did you know that fans can also distribute heat efficiently in the winter? If your fans are reversible, then set it on the reverse setting to push warmer air down to where you are at. Remember, warm air rises, therefore a fan can move heat trapped near the ceiling and push it down where you are sitting.
4. Check your insulation. You have insulation in the attic, under the soffits and in the basement where the ceiling meets the side of your home. That is good. Where you do not have insulation installed can cause much heat loss as in pipes that are exposed to cold air and your hot water heater too. Place a water heater blanket around your water heater to preserve the heat. Insulate exposed pipes to avoid freezing and burst pipes.
5. Let in the light. In the summer, you want to keep the sun out. In the winter, you want to let the sun in. Make sure that your sun facing windows have full exposure to the sun throughout the shorter winter days. Those rooms will feel warmer and you will be less inclined to turn up the thermostat if you feel a chill coming on.
6. Examine caulking and weather stripping. Take a look around every door and window in your home. Weather stripping and caulking should be in place, but both may have worn or lost its ability to keep the cold air out. Replace damaged caulking and worn weather stripping to keep the cold air out. For especially drafty windows, use plastic shrink film that is applied to the inside of your windows. The look isn’t great, but the reduction in energy waste should be quite noticeable.
Saving energy is a process that can result in immediate savings with an eye toward incorporating long term solutions. With the latter, you will want to replace your older, less efficient appliances with new, Energy Star rated appliances when the time comes. Also, you may want to replace your windows and doors with new ones that have an improved R-value. In some cases you may be eligible for a credit or a rebate, from your state or through your energy company. Finally, if your energy company offers a free audit, sign up for one. Have a professional point out where energy loss is apparent and learn what steps you can take to conserve its use.
Natasha Risinger is an environmentalist. She writes for eco blogs and more. See www.Texaselectricityproviders.com for information on energy providers in Texas.