4 Ways to Start Saving Energy This Winter

With cold weather moving in, more time spent indoors and the need to light your home for more hours of the day, winter can make a major impact on your home's total energy costs, regardless of whether you heat your home using natural gas, heating oil or electricity.

But, fortunately, there are many ways you can start saving energy around your home this winter, ranging from inexpensive (or no-cost), do-it-yourself tasks to larger investments that make take a season or two to produce a return on the investment.

Here are four ways that you can start saving energy this winter (listed roughly in order of cost and ease):

1. Change the direction of your fan to run clockwise

Yes, ceiling fans may feel great during hot summer weather, but did you know that they also have a role to play in managing your home’s temperature in the winter? Once the weather cools down, use the switch on the base of the fan to change the rotation of the blades to clockwise.

Since hot air rises in a room, the clockwise-spinning blades will distribute this air down alongside the walls of the room and help make the room feel warm and comfortable, allowing you to adjust the temperature on your thermostat a few degrees.

2. Check your windows, doors and other areas for drafts and leaks

Weatherization on doorsWeatherization – the process of protecting your home against the elements to improve energy efficiency – is a slightly more involved, but still relatively simple way you can start saving energy this winter. Weatherization will reap immediate benefits on your electric bill and will continue to help you save throughout the year.

Around doors, windows, attic entrances and other movable features of your home, your best bet is weather stripping, which can be found at any home improvement store. For small cracks and gaps around heating ducts, window frames and other fixed features, caulk will do the job. Anything larger will require insulation. With a few, easy weatherization projections, you may be able to save up to 20 percent on your energy costs this winter!

3. Swap your lightbulbs – especially those old holiday lights – with LEDs

Lighting typically accounts for about 10 percent of the average home’s energy usage, and in the winter, this could go up due to the shorter days. But fortunately, LED lighting is one of the most proven and inexpensive ways to start saving energy at home. According to most estimates, LED lighting uses about 75 percent less energy – and they could last up to 25 times as long as incandescent bulbs!

Unlike past years, LED bulbs are relatively inexpensive today, and there are lot of great options out there depending on your needs and preferences – including energy-efficient holiday lighting. Older Christmas lights can be a major energy drain around the holiday season, but the LED versions will add a negligible impact to your electric bill.

4. Set your thermostat to 68 degrees – or upgrade to a smart thermostat

Heating typically accounts for a large chunk of a home’s energy costs – whether that’s electricity, heating oil or natural gas – during the winter months, but relatively minor adjustments to your home’s thermostat can help alleviate the impact to your bill(s). According to the Department of Energy, you can save 10 percent a year on heating and cooling by “turning your thermostat back 7°-10°F for eight hours a day from its normal setting”.

In the winter, it’s recommend that you set your thermostat to 68°F while you’re home and awake and a few degrees lower when you’re sleeping or away. However, if you really want to get a handle on your home’s temperature, you may want to consider purchasing a smart thermostat – which typically cost between $99 to $250 before any rebates that may be available through your electricity and natural gas providers.

A smart thermostat can automate the changes in temperature throughout the day and can make changes based your comfort preferences or to maximize efficiency. You can also control the temperature of your home remotely through a mobile app and may be able to see your energy usage in real time.

Winter’s a great time to start saving on energy

While you may be accustomed to seeing higher energy costs over the winter months, don’t be apathetic. There are many, relatively easy ways to rein in these costs, and the four methods discussed here are just a fraction of the tips out there. Your electricity and natural gas providers should have many additional tips on their websites and may have special winter programs available only in your area. Contact them today to see what’s available for you.

Want to learn more about other ways to save energy at home? Check out our new resources on no-cost/low-cost ways to save, how renters can save on energy and tips on the latest tech for saving energy.

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