9 Tips to Save Energy This Winter
The winter season can be brutal for homeowners trying to save energy. Cold weather often means overworked heating systems. You may be tempted to turn up the central heating, plug in space-heaters throughout the house, or even use that old electric blanket. All these methods use electricity and lead to higher energy bills.. As the year progresses the weather only gets colder. That could mean even more energy use to warm guests or family members. Don’t fret though! There are ways homeowners can decrease energy usage without freezing the pipes.
1. Here comes the sun
Earth is lucky to have energy source that provides free heat every day. The sun warms your home throughout the day, and well-insulated homes will retain that heat throughout the evening. Homeowners who use the location of the sun to their advantage can save tons of energy by only opening a few shades. During the day, you can open your south-facing blinds to raise the temperature. At night, close blinds or curtains to contain the heat. Using the sun for heat is the perfect way to use clean energy and save money on heating or utility bills. The sun also provides households with natural light which means using less electricity.
2. Keep heat vents open
Some homeowners may think closing the vents in unoccupied rooms of the house saves energy. When, in fact, it can actually hinder the HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) system. Closing vents does not cause HVACs to run less; the air will find its way into the room through the spaces left in the vents. HVAC systems are designed to measure the pressure and temperature in a home to balance the air circulation. If several vents are closed the HVAC will have to overcompensate and work harder to make the house warmer. This will eventually cause the HVAC to become damaged. Along with leaving household vents open, cleaning dirt vents will help improve efficiency of an HVAC. Neglecting vents will cause them to become clogged. In this case, the vents that are clogged are similar to the ones that are closed. Not enough air flow in an HVAC will lead to overuse.
3. Reverse ceiling fan rotation.
At first this tip seems useless; why would someone turn a fan on in the winter? On the contrary, ceiling fans can be a simple way to change the temperature in a room. Most fans have a switch that will change the direction it spins. During the winter ceiling fans should rotate clockwise. This will cause cold air to be sucked up while warmer air that has risen naturally will be circulated throughout the room. When the fan is spinning clockwise it should be set on the lowest speed to prevent the cold air drafts that make a room chilly. An underestimated hidden ability of ceiling fans can be used to make an occupied room warmer.
How high should thermostats be in winter months? This depends on the homeowner’s preference. Having the heat on high all day long can drastically increase utility bills. According to the US Department of Energy, turning the thermostat back 7 to 10 degrees for 8 hours a day can save homeowners nearly 10% on heating and cooling for the year! During the winter it may be difficult to turn down the heat but there are ways to stay warm without breaking the bank. Strategically placing space heaters in higher trafficked rooms can reduce heat usage. Reducing the heat in unused rooms can lower household utility bills without causing discomfort.
Windows can be a major source of heat loss. Loss of heat can decrease depending on the window. The more panes a window has the more air is between the two panes. Air has a low conductivity of heat making windows with several panes retain heat better. Another feature that windows can have is low emissivity coating (low-e). Low-e coatings allow windows to deflect most UV and solar heat in the summer and in the winter it prevents heat loss without sacrificing natural light. Household doorways can be a cause of heat loss as well. Air leaks or a lack of insulation can turn the door into a vent if not properly cared for. Warm air will leak through any small space available. Without the proper insulation households can lose valuable heat.
7. LED lights
The winter season is a festive time with neighborhoods decorated in holiday lights. For those who go all out and put lights everywhere inside and outside of the house will see their utility bill skyrocket. Holiday lights call for an abundance of extra electricity; unless the lights are energy efficient. LED lights use about 75% less energy and last longer than iridescent lights. It is time to throw away those old light strands and upgrade to the LED strands that don’t have that one pesky bulb.
8. Bathroom and exhaust fans
Exhaust fans can hinder a home’s internal heat. An exhaust and bathroom fan takes the warm air inside a house and pushes it into the cool outside air. This air must be replaced which means cold air is being pulled into the home causing the heating system to compensate for the reduced temperature. Instead of using a bathroom fan, homeowners can take short or cooler showers. This may be difficult but the decrease in utility costs would be worth it.
Different areas of a home can become colder than others. Windows and walls can become colder because of their proximity to the outside. Other areas acna retain the cold air like flooring. To combat these small problems homeowners can “dress their house.” What does that mean? Homeowners can add curtains to windows, place blankets on cooler furniture like leather, and even placing carpets can insulate floors. When it comes to saving energy every little bit counts in the winter season.