During the winter many homeowners are surprised by high utility bills. Usually, high energy bills in the winter are a result of using your HVAC system more, but can also be attributed to holiday lights and increased usage of appliances (like your oven). Staying warm while saving energy is important if you want to be more conscious of the environment or your budget. Here are a few tips to stay warm without running up your power bill this winter.
Identify any drafts in your home.
One of the fastest ways to run up your electricity bill is to leave the heat on when there’s a draft! Check windows and external doors first. Some people light incense or a candle to help find where air is moving. You can also invest in a thermal draft detector if you really want to be accurate in finding drafts. Small drafts can be filled with caulk, while larger drafts may need foam, weatherstripping, or further insulation. After checking all your doors and windows examine your chimney (if you have one) as well as the attic and basement. These are all areas that can become drafty over time.
Close off unused rooms.
If you live in a large home, focus on warming the areas you live in most. Close off any parts of the house you do not use, like spare bedrooms, and make sure the air vents are closed inside those rooms. If you predominately use one or two rooms in the house, look into energy-efficient space heaters. Using a space heater instead of the home’s HVAC can reduce wasted heat.
Many people forget, but your ceiling fan can change directions. In the winter the ceiling fan should rotate clockwise to pull up the cool air. Run your ceiling fan on the lowest setting in the clockwise direction and warm air will stay lower in your room.
Take advantage of sunlight.
Make sure your curtains and blinds are open during the day to let the sunlight warm your home. If you really want to reduce your energy bill you can install thermal tiles that absorb heat and release it slowly, or go the more obvious route and add solar panels to your roof to reduce and possibly eliminate your energy bill altogether!
Insulate at night.
Close your curtains when the sun goes down to help insulate your home better. Curtains can prevent some of the airflow caused by drafts you may have missed earlier and keep warmth from leaving your home. The best type of curtains for insulating your home at night are thermal curtains that have multiple layers of fabric with an insert of thick padding. Thick thermal curtains can save you money on heating costs during the winter.
Unplug appliances when you are not using them.
Some appliances have a standby mode that uses a small amount of electricity. While the energy used by appliances while they are in standby mode likely represents less than 1% of the total energy usage for a home, every little bit can count. While Energy Star appliance models use virtually no energy when idle, unplugging appliances is the only way to be sure they are not still drawing energy from your outlets.
Wear warm layers at home in the winter.
Stay in the habit of putting on warm slippers, a sweater, or a robe so your home doesn’t feel cold even when it isn’t warm. During the winter it’s good to have comfortable clothing to wear around the house that keeps in body heat. Don’t forget, a large portion of body heat is lost through your head, so keep a comfortable scarf or toboggan around the house as a first response for when it gets cold, rather than cranking up the heat.