There are many ways to go about “greening” your house during the fall and winter months. Some solutions are long-range investments, while others require significant DIY skill or the use of an outside contractor. Today, let’s focus on 7 eco-friendly tips that are both easy and cost effective for helping you lower your energy usage during the colder months by improving the energy efficiency of your home.
1) Lower Your Thermostat
Now that you’ve started dressing for the season, it’s time to change the temperature on your thermostat. Heating your home to a balmy 75 degrees during the winter is inefficient and will cost you a bundle. Instead, lower your thermostat to 68 degrees for when you’re awake and at home and 60 degrees when you’re out or asleep. Want to make it even easier? Pick up a programmable thermostat so you can set it and forget it!
2) Update Your Lighting
Research now shows that traditional incandescent light bulbs are less efficient than CFL and LED bulbs in terms of cost and life span. The real issue of light bulb energy efficiency truly hits home when Daylight Savings Time ends and we are lighting our homes for more hours during the day. If you haven’t already done so, swap out your inefficient incandescent bulbs for their more energy efficient counterparts to double-down on lowering your energy costs in winter.
3) Dress for the Season
If you’re like me, wearing shorts and a t-shirt around the house feels great, but in the colder months, it isn’t a good strategy for reducing energy consumption. One simple way to reduce your impact by reducing your usage is to dress for the season around the home. Trade in warm weather comfort clothes for sweatpants and a sweatshirt or jeans and a light sweater; maybe even snuggle up under a blanket when watching TV or reading a book.
4) Run Your Ceiling Fan in Reverse
Ceiling fans are not just for a cooling breeze. Most ceiling fans allow you to switch from a counterclockwise rotation (blowing cool air down) to a clockwise rotation. This recirculates the warm air that is resting along your ceiling, thus lowering the demand on your furnace, as well as your energy usage.
5) Check Your Hot Water Heater
Most factory water heaters are set to heat water to 140 degrees, hotter than most people use. Instead, set your water heater to 120 degrees and enjoy energy savings of 6%-10%.
Another thing to consider is heat loss. Your water tank and pipes are constantly radiating heat, and your water heater is constantly reheating the water as it cools. Combat heat loss by purchasing a water heater blanket and insulate your pipes.
If you are interested in a greener system altogether, consider replacing your current water heater with a tankless water heater system, though this is a more substantial investment and will require professional installation.
6) Let Your Windows Work for You
Windows can be a persistent source of energy inefficiency, but they can also work in your favor. Reduce your need for lighting during the day by opening windows and curtains around your house. In fact, you can also warm your house naturally by leaving the curtains of south-facing windows open during the day. When the sun goes down, close your curtains to help insulate your home by keeping warm air in and drafts out.
7) Cool Rooms
There are likely rooms and spaces in your home that you do not readily use. A great way to lower your usage is to limit the energy you expend on heating little-used spaces. To make a room cool and improve overall energy efficiency, simply close off vents and place draft snakes at the threshold of the door.
You can also save energy by using (or replacing) weatherstripping on the sashes of closet doors. It’s important to note that some HVAC systems, especially high efficiency systems, may become imbalanced and actually lose efficiency if too many vents are closed. Consult your HVAC system manufacturer if you plan to close vents in a lot of rooms.
It doesn’t take a lot of work or money to lower your usage and have a positive impact on the environment. By utilizing the solutions provided by these low cost, easily implemented green tips, you will not only lower your energy usage, you will also have a big boost in pride and little extra money to show for it (which is a great way to get others to join in on the fun!).