Whether owning or renting a home, there is one thing we all have in common: wanting to save money on our monthly expenses. Considering that winter is one of the most expensive seasons, it makes sense to try to reduce those seasonal expenses as best we can.
Unless you’re still in mom and dad’s basement, these expenses include things like your electric and gas bills… both of which increase significantly in colder months. Energy-efficient changes will not only make your home more comfortable over the cold season, but can save you money in the process.
Here are some of the easiest ways you can save this winter, by simply prepping your home ahead of time.
Heating your home in the wintertime can be difficult enough. When your efforts are being sabotaged by drafts, you’ll find that you’re wasting even more money along the way.
Older homes are especially notorious for having drafts, or areas where heat is able to escape and cold air can rush in. These air leaks are found around
- window seals,
- door frames,
- wiring holes,
- plumbing vents,
- recessed lights,
- through your chimney,
- and any other areas where gaps and cracks can exist.
By properly sealing your home, you’ll eliminate these leaks and save a significant amount on your utility costs throughout the year. In fact, Energy.gov estimates that the average home could save 15% on their heating and cooling costs each year just by making basic adjustments to seal air leaks.
Some cracks can be sealed by simply caulking or installing new flashing. This is cost-effective, and almost anyone can do it on their own. Other drafts may require a more involved process, such as spray foam insulation.
Insulate Your Pipes
While we are on the topic of lost heat: don’t forget to insulate your pipes.
You can wrap hot water pipes with pre-cut foam sleeves in seconds, to help them hold heat in the colder months. This will save your hot water heater from having to work harder, which saves you money in the process.
You should also consider wrapping other exposed water pipes, especially if you live in a colder climate. This will help protect them from freezing when the temperature drops -- a burst water pipe can be an incredibly expensive repair, so try to avoid it at all costs.
Give Your Furnace a Boost
The better the air flow to your furnace, the better it’s able to operate. This saves you money and improves the longevity of your equipment.
The easiest way to give it a boost? Simply swap out your air filters.
You should be changing your home’s filters every 3-6 months anyway but be sure to check them before winter hits. You can also clean around intake vents to remove any built-up dust that could reduce the life of your filters.
Check Your Moisture Levels
In that same thread, you should also check the humidity levels in your home, to ensure that the air isn’t too dry. Moist air holds heat better than dry air, so it will be easier for you to maintain a comfortable temperature throughout the winter if the moisture is set appropriately.
You can check your indoor air with a hygrometer, available for less than $10 online. If your air is too dry, a humidifier can be purchased inexpensively (if your furnace doesn’t have one built-in) to boost the moisture of your air. This will save you money on heating costs, reduce static electricity in the cold months, and even help prevent dry skin.
Use Those Curtains
Your curtains aren’t just for decoration, you know. They play a key role in your winter energy efficiency!
Close curtains to help your living spaces retain heat lost through windowpanes, especially if they’re north-facing. Conversely, you should open south-facing curtains to allow the sun to warm your home further during the daylight hours.
Close the Damper
You may not realize how much heat can be lost through your chimney, especially if you rarely use it. But if you leave your damper open all winter, you could not only be losing valuable heat, but you might even find yourself with a cold downdraft filling your living spaces.
Be sure to check your damper and seal it when the fireplace is not in use. Open it when you plan to light a fire, then close once the fire has been completely extinguished and the ashes cleaned out.
Turn Down Thermostats
Of course, one of the easiest ways to reduce your winter expenses is to simply adjust your settings.
If you have a programmable thermostat, plan to shift it into “winter mode” before the cold weather hits. Allow your home’s temperature to drop to about 60-62 degrees while you’re away or throughout the night. When you return home or right before you wake up, set it to a more comfortable 68-70 degrees.
While you can expect your utility costs to jump a bit in the wintertime, there’s no reason the season has to break the bank. By preparing with a few easy and affordable repairs, you could dramatically drop your utility bill this year.