Winterizing your home doesn’t necessarily involve big-ticket items such as adding insulation or pricey dual-pane windows. A lot of small improvements can add up to big savings in your winter energy consumption, report “The Daily Green” experts at www.GoodHousekeeping.com. They include tips here:
1. Mind the thermostat
It’s easy to forget to turn down the heat when you leave the building, but doing so is one of the surest ways to save money. Most households shell out 50 percent to 70 percent of their energy budgets on heating and cooling, so why pay for what no one uses?
For every degree you lower the thermostat during heating season, you’ll save between 1 and 3 percent of your heating bill.
2. Use an energy monitor
Measure your way to savings with an energy monitor, such as the The Energy Detective (TED), which starts at $139. Such a device indicates household electrical usage in real time and projects your monthly bill. Research has found that such info leads consumers to reduce their electricity consumption significantly.
In fact, according to the company you’ll save 15 percent to 20 percent on each bill, which would amount to hundreds of dollars a year. By seeing exactly how much each appliance or activity costs, you’ll start seeing easy ways to cut waste.
3. Put on a sweater
Yes, Jimmy Carter was right. We need to dress warmer for winter, even inside. Gone are the days (for most of us at least) when we can afford to lounge around in our underwear while it’s frosty outside. Remember what we said about each degree on the thermostat costing you money?
Roughly speaking, a light long-sleeved sweater is worth about 2 degrees in added warmth, while a heavy sweater adds about 4 degrees. So cozy up and start saving.
4. Dam those drafts
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, drafts can waste 5 percent to 30 percent of your energy use. Start simple and adopt that old Great Depression fixture — the draft snake, which you can easily make yourself. Just place a rolled bath towel under a drafty door, or make a more attractive DIY draft snake. You can use any scraps of fabric — even neckties — and fill with sand or kitty litter for heft.
Make sure drafts aren’t giving your thermostat a false reading, too.
5. Change furnace filters
It’s important to replace or clean furnace filters once a month during the heating season. Dirty filters restrict airflow and increase energy demand. A good way to remember is to mark a monthly check on your calendar.
Better, consider switching to a permanent filter, which will reduce waste and hassle. Did you know that disposable fiberglass filters trap a measly 10 percent to 40 percent of debris? Electostatic filters trap around 88 percent, and are much better at controlling the bacteria, mold, viruses and pollen that cause illness and irritation. They cost $50 to $1,000 or more. Another good choice is a genuine HEPA filter, which can remove at least 99.97 percent of airborne particles. HEPA filters are based on Department of Energy standards. But avoid “HEPA-like” filters, which can be vastly less effective.
6. Run fans in reverse
Most people think of fans only when they want to be cool, but many ceiling units come with a handy switch that reverses the direction of the blades. Counterclockwise rotation produces cooling breezes while switching to clockwise makes it warmer: air pooled near the ceiling is circulated back into the living space — cutting your heating costs as much as 10 percent.
7. Turn down your water heater
While many conventional water heaters are set to 140 degrees F by installers, most households don’t need that much steam, and end up paying for it — in dollars and the occasional scalding burn. Lowering the temperature to 120 degrees F (or lower) would reduce your water heating costs by 6 percent to10 percent.