This scene may look gorgeous with the white layer covering everything, but this time of year puts a huge strain on many budgets! That means that there are two options, either weatherize the house and save money while saving energy or keep turning up the thermostat to combat the drafts. Since we're trying to be more environmentally and budget friendly, that really leaves one option – find ways to save energy and money without freezing or wearing five layers indoors!
We've touched on this before, but one of the biggest things you can do to be energy and budget friendly in the winter is to control your thermostat. The first way to do this is to invest in a programmable thermostat. This small investment will allow you to save nearly $200 per year in heating and cooling costs because you will not be paying to keep your home at a comfortable temperature when no one is there.
Once you have the thermostat installed, set it to a much cooler temperature, as low as 50 degrees Fahrenheit when you are not typically home. To make sure you come home and don't freeze for the first hour, set the thermostat to the raise to the occupied temperature about 30 minutes before you will be home. Then, have another setting programmed so the temperature will lower while you are sleeping. It is much more economical to grab an extra blanket to keep you warm than keep the house at a higher temperature. Again, set the thermostat to raise to the occupied setting 30 minutes before the first person typically wakes in the morning.
To further increase savings, slowly adjust the occupied temperature lower. By acclimating your family slowly, you can lower the temperature in your home as much as five degrees or more.
Your furnace spends many months every year just sitting there, waiting for it to get cold. While that's good from an energy standpoint, it also leaves a lot of months where something can go wrong without you knowing about it. In the fall, it's worth having a trained technician come in and tune-up and diagnose the furnace before you need it. Don't forget to replace your filter every month and at the beginning of the season. A clean furnace is more efficient.
It's said that as many as 75% of homes don't have adequate insulation in the attic. Not only does this allow cold air into the home, but it allows the warm air to get to the roof, which increases the chances ice dams on the roof. When these occur, they can be dangerous if they slide off the roof as the weather warms up and costly if the water gets under the shingles before freezing. When adding more insulation to your attic, make sure you do not cover any vents or soffits.
Take a lit candle through your home and hold it up to your windows, doors and electric outlets to see if you have any drafts. If you do have drafts, you can install weather stripping or caulk to seal the draft. If you want to make sure you have a professional, finished look, you may want to contact a professional to complete this job.
These few things will get you well on your way to saving energy this winter and lowering your heating bills in the process!
Missed part of the series, catch up on the entire “Go Green, Save Green” series!