Fall is an important time to start thinking about things you can do to save energy in the colder weather. With energy efficiency, like most things in life, it’s important to remember that the devil’s in the details. The way you make your home more energy efficient is by making a lot of seemingly small changes that’ll result in a significant decrease in the amount of energy you use.
I’ve collected a lot of great tips to increase both your indoor and outdoor energy efficiency and to help you stay safe, comfortable and save money over the winter. Of course, one of the easiest ways to cut costs is lower your thermostat. Check out Lauren’s Zing! post for more information on staying warm while keeping the heat turned down.
Indoor Energy Efficiency Tips
Here’s a list of easy but effective things you can do around the house to maximize your energy usage.
- Clean out your dryer vent. Lint buildup is a fire hazard, and it forces your machine to work a lot harder.
- Replace your furnace filter. This should be done at least twice a year, before and after the cold weather, to prevent blockages and make sure you’re getting fresh, clean air in your home.
One appliance you can look at to save a lot of money is your water heater.
- Flush the hot water heater. Sediment collects in your heater over time, causing it to work harder and, possibly, even leak. Usually, you just have to hook up a hose to the bottom valve and drain off the old water and sediment.
- Insulate the water heater. You can also buy a special insulator that’ll help keep the water hot.
- Wrap your water pipes to minimize lost heat.
- Lower your water temperature. The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) found that a 10-degree reduction in water temperature saves about 3–5% in heating costs. Lowering your water temperature to 120 degrees Fahrenheit will help keep costs low, and if you have children in the home, you should definitely keep the temperature around 120 to prevent burns.
- Conserve water. Try to limit your shower time, and install water-saver faucet inserts and shower heads.
The refrigerator is another utility that you should focus on to conserve energy.
- Give your fridge a check-up. Check the seals of the doors by putting a dollar bill in the door and close it. If the bill falls out, then you need to get a new seal.
- Check the refrigerator temperature; it should be between 36 and 38 degrees Fahrenheit, and the freezer should be between 0 and 5 degrees.
- Keep the fridge in a cool spot; if it’s in the sunlight, think about moving it if you can. You don’t want it too close to the stove or dishwasher either, if you can help it.
- If your refrigerator doesn’t handle it automatically, defrost it regularly. Then, see if you can set the thermostat a little higher to save even more energy.
- Let hot food cool before you put it in the fridge so less energy is used to cool it.
There are also some general things you can do around the house to keep the heat in your house and the money in your pocket.
- Insulate your attic door. No need to heat the empty attic all winter long.
- Seal off the back porch or patio door. Every year, my dad puts a sheet of plastic over the back porch door to help insulate the house.
- Set the house thermostat at 68 degrees or less – with every degree you lower the thermostat, you save about 2% on your heating bill.
- Open curtains and blinds during the day to let the sunlight warm up your house, and then close them at night to keep the heat in.
- Check out utilities’ incentives programs offered through your energy provider as well as city, state and federal governments.
Outdoor Energy Efficiency Tips
- Repair driveway/sidewalk cracks. You’ll want to do this before water freezes in the cracks, enlarging them and the cost of repairs.
- If you have an asphalt driveway, try resealing it to protect it from ice and salt erosion.
- Get a chimney inspection. A blocked chimney can be a health and safety hazard, and cracks in the chimney can allow energy to escape, racking up your monthly bill.
- Check for loose or separated roof shingles to guard against water and snow seeping in and creating further damage.
- Clean out your gutters. Clogged gutters can cause basement flooding and roof damage, especially in the winter when the gutters fill with water and then freeze. The weight of the ice can rip your gutters right off the side of the house.
I hope you find these tips helpful. If you follow basic strategies like these, you’ll end up saving a lot of money on energy costs and your home will be a lot safer!