New England Winters are beautiful to admire but can drag on and become uncomfortable both physically and financially if you aren’t maximizing your efforts to save energy and stay comfortable. Below are a few strategies to help you save energy, save money, and stay warm through fall and winter. Some of these tips can be used on a daily basis to increase your savings; others are simple actions you can take to ensure maximum savings all season long.
1. Take advantage of heat from the sun.
Open curtains and blinds in your south-facing windows during the day to allow sunlight to naturally heat your home. Be sure to close them at night to reduce the chill you might feel from cold windows, especially if they are drafty. And that brings us to tip #2.
2. Cover drafty windows.
Make use of heavy-duty, clear plastic window film from your local hardware supply store to cover the inside of your window frames during the cold winter months. Make sure the plastic is sealed properly to reduce infiltration. You can also use insulating drapes or shades on drafty windows for additional protection.
3. Adjust the temperature accordingly.
Make use of a programmable thermostat and set it to a comfortable temperature when you are home and awake. When you are asleep or out of the house turn it back 10° for eight hours and save around 10% a year on your heating bills. If you have a heat pump, maintain a moderate setting or use a programmable thermostat specifically designed for use with heat pumps.
4. Find and seal leaks.
Seal air leaks around utility cut-throughs for pipes, gaps around your chimney and recessed lights in insulated ceilings, and unfinished spaces behind cabinets and closets. Add calk or weather-stripping to seal air leaks around leaky doors and windows. If you have a pet door be sure the weather-strip is in good condition and use a heavy curtain on either side to help with any drafts.
5. Maintain your heating system
A well-tuned furnace will be more efficient and use less energy. Some studies have shown that regular maintenance can save you as much as 30% off your home heating costs. Simple things like changing your filters on a regular basis will increase your savings.
6. Reduce heat loss from your fireplace
Keep your fireplace damper closed unless you have an active fire. Keeping the damper open is like keeping a window open during the winter; your warm air will escape right up the chimney. Consider installing a tempered glass door and heat-air exchange system that blows warm air back into the room. If you never use your fireplace, plug and seal the flue.
7. Avoid using exhaust fans.
Running your bathroom or kitchen exhaust fans for even just an hour can deplete your home of heat and warm air. Minimize their use by turning them off as soon as possible.
8. Reverse your ceiling fans.
Most, if not all, ceiling fans have a reverse setting for winter. By reversing your fan blades to rotate clockwise you draw down the risen heat from the ceiling and prevent it from dissipating through the roof or walls.
9. Place rugs in high-traffic areas.
Placing rugs on tile, linoleum, concrete or hardwood flooring will assist in insulation efforts.
10. Use a space heater.
In some, not all, cases a space heater may be more efficient to heat a small room than running a central home heating system. Place a portable heater in the room your family uses most during the hours everyone’s home (often a living room in the evening). If you work from home, this zone may be your home office during the day. The smaller the room, the bigger the savings!