Save Energy and Save Money
When it starts to feel like winter, we instinctively want to get as cozy as possible in our homes. But when we see our utility bills, we begin to realize the high price we pay for hibernating in comfort. By following a few tips for conserving energy, however, we can save energy this winter during the colder months of the year so that your bills don’t go through the roof.
Your Heating System
Set your thermostat to 68 degrees. If you set it any higher than this, you’ll be adding about a two to five percent increase in energy charges for each degree raised. At nighttime, lower the temperature even more. If you’re going on vacation, set your thermostat to 60 degrees so that you won’t be placing an unnecessary strain on the heating system when you get back home.
Increase efficiency and reduce costs by cleaning and replacing your furnace filters in accordance with recommendations. Do the same with your air filters. Frequently check these and your heating vents—you should get rid of any dust or debris that may be blocking them to make sure the air flows through freely.
Your Fireplaces, Windows, and Doors
Do you have any fireplaces? If so, make sure that the dampers are tightly closed to keep any cold air from getting in. Also, check for any leaks around your windows and doorways. You can perform a simple visual test first. Look at caulking and other trouble spots around electrical outlets, window air conditioning units, baseboards, window and door frames, weather-stripping, and phone and cable lines, for signs of cracks or gaps.
You can also check for leaks with a pressurization test. When it’s cool and windy out, close all of your windows, fireplace dampers, and exhaust fans. Turn off your water heater and any gas burning furnaces. Light a stick of incense and pass it by all of the common areas for leaks listed above, as well as your attic hatch, fireplace dampers, vents, and fans. If the smoke moves in waves or is drawn up out of the room, then you’ve discovered a draft.
Another simple method of draft detection is dampening your hand to see if you feel cold air in any of these common places. Seal up, caulk, or use weather-stripping to cover up any leaks you find. It’s important to insulate your windows against the cold—this will help keep the heat inside and save you money in energy costs in the process. Install storm windows and close your curtains at nighttime, remembering to open them up again when it’s sunny outside.
Your Hot Water Heater
Keep the temperature at 120 degrees or below during the winter, and try to use less hot water. You may want to consider switching out your old shower head to a new, low-flow one. Wash your laundry in cold water, and don’t use the heat cycle on your dishwasher—allow your dishes to air dry instead. If you have any concerns about your pipes, cover them with inexpensive foam wraps for added insulation.
Odds and Ends
Using a humidifier will make your home more comfortable without you having to turn up the heat. Putting area rugs on bare floors will save energy too. You’ll also want to flip the switch so that your ceiling fans turn in the opposite direction during the winter. This will push the warm air from the ceiling into the room below.
By using these simple tips to save energy, you’ll maintain the comfort of your home during the colder months without breaking the bank. Contact your local certified home inspection company to discuss how an inspection can reveal issues in your home that are making it less efficient so you can make any needed repairs!
Cowan Inspections Group serves Park City, Heber City, Salt Lake City, and all surrounding areas with a variety of home inspection services.