Back in the mid 1960s, the state of California had a energy crisis that had property owners and renters pushing their thermostats down to 55. Christmas lights
were also banned and I remember our family celebrating a very dark Christmas that year. The crisis lasted less than a year, but from that experience, we all learned the importance of conserving energy on a regular daily basis.
During the winter months, heating a residence can account for nearly half a household utility bill. In the northern states especially, those long winters have folks reaching for the furnace thermostat from October clear into April. Saving winter energy doesn’t have to be that difficult but does mean paying attention to the areas in which energy is wasted.
Turn down the thermostat
One significant way of saving on your winter heating costs is by turning down the thermostat. A setting of 65 is fine for the daytime but certainly can be cranked down to 55 at night. At first that 65 degree setting may seem a bit chilly, but after a week or two, you’ll discover the family adapting to the lower temperatures.
Service your furnace regularly
A $75 service call may seem excessive, but is it well worth the cost to have your furnace properly serviced before winter hits. Regular service keeps your furnace working efficiently which helps to reduce those energy costs. Don’t forget to also change out those filters at least once a month! If you live on a dirt road or along a dusty alley, the filters may have to be changed as frequently as twice a month.
Insulate the water heater
Wrap the water heater and water pipes with rolled insulation. This prevents the escape of heat from the pipes.
Haul out the woolens
With the lowered temperatures in the house, this means no more running around in bare feet and shortie pajamas! Haul out the slippers and the sweaters, and get in the habit of dressing more warmly indoors. For rooms that are more colder than others, such as north facing rooms or converted porches, bundle up beneath wool quilts and lap blankets instead of cranking up the thermostat.
Seal the leaks
A 1/2 inch gap beneath the front door is equivalent to having a 4 inch hole in the wall. Check the gaps around doors and windows and replace seals where needed to increase your energy savings. Don’t forget to check around the electrical outlets! These areas also can get quite draughty and can be easily insulated with precut foam panels that fits beneath the outlet cover. Leaks can be easily located in these areas by using a lit candle to check for air movement.
Adjust the curtains
During the day, open the curtains to take advantage of some passive solar gain. In the evenings, close the drapes to prevent those cold windows from cooling down the interior of your home.
Close off unused rooms
Do you have unused or under utilized rooms in your house, such as a spare bedroom, basement store room, or pantry? Simply close the doors for more energy savings. It’s not necessary to shut down the vents; according to our Gas Company, closing down vents can affect the efficiency of a furnace.
Close the fireplace damper
Have a fireplace? Close down the damper when it’s not in use, and prevent all that cold air from coming down the chimney.
Recapture energy already in the house
When we take showers, dry clothes, or cook, we are bringing heat into our homes. Rather than exhausting this heat out the roof, why not recapture this energy and disperse it around the house? Open bathroom doors after bathing to heat up bedrooms and halls. Disconnect the clothes dryer exhaust from the exterior vent, and reroute that flex tubing to heat up the laundry room and kitchen instead. When cooking meals or baking, open up the oven when finished to let the heat escape into the kitchen.
Be mindful of using exhaust vents
A single bathroom or kitchen ventilation system can empty a house of warm air in less than an hour. Only use the ceiling vents for as long as absolutely necessary, then turn them off.
Insulate exterior cracks
Take a walk around the outside of your home and check for gaps in the siding or around the foundations, windows, and doors. Use a can of expanding foam insulation to seal these cracks, and restrict the cold air from entering your home.
Use timers on the lights
When winter darkness falling as early as 4:00 pm in some states, we are tempted to leave lights on so as not to come home to a dark house. Instead of wasting that power all day, invest in a couple of timers to switch the lights on at a preset time.
Using these 12 tips will help you to reduce your energy use over the winter months, and save money. For more information about energy savings and reducing your energy costs, visit the website of the US Department of Energy at eere.energy.gov to order a free pamphlet and view other on-line resources.