After a long and somewhat brutal summer, many people have been looking forward to cooler weather. Well, its almost here! With winter being right around the corner, now is the perfect time to start thinking about how to get your home ready for the cold days ahead.
Do It Yourself Tips
1. Change Your Air Filters
You should change your air filters at the very least, once a month during the winter season. It is easy to forget, but a crucial way to save money on heating costs and extend the life of your furnace. Here's an easy way to remember to change those often forgotten filters:
2. Turn Down Your Water Heater
Most installers set conventional water heaters to 140 degrees. For the vast majority of people, that is WAY too hot. Why pay to keep your water hotter than you need it? Lowering your water heater temperature to 120 degrees can save up to 10% of the cost you pay each month. During the winter months, it can save you even more. If you're constantly messing with the cold water tap to cool off that searing hot shower, you're just washing your dollars straight down the drain!
3. Control Drafts
Remember that pillow thing grandma used to keep propped at the base of the door to keep the cold out? It turns out, those really do work. They're commonly referred to as a draft snake and they can conserve between 5-30% of your energy costs, depending on how drafty your house is.
A much better option would be to replace your doors with new energy efficient ones or to add storm doors to your entry points, but if your budget doesn't allow for that quite yet, these little guys really will pay for themselves.
4. Turn Down Your Thermostat
During the work/school week, many homes are unoccupied during the day. Why are we keeping the house toasty when no one is there to enjoy it? Studies show that 50-70% of a homes energy costs are spent on heating and cooling. For every degree you turn down the thermostat, you save 1-3% of your energy costs for heating. So even dropping that thermostat 5 degrees when you walk out the door will save you a good deal of money. There are simple ways to make sure this happens.
Also, think about turning down the thermostat while you're home. We're not saying to spend your days miserably cold, but a sweater and a hot cocoa in a chilly house is pretty fantastic.
5. Use Window Plastic
Window insulating sheets are very low cost and easy to install. When done correctly, they are nearly invisible and can save you a lot on money over the course of the winter. Of course, the best option would be to invest in new energy efficient windows, but if that isn't possible, these plastic films are your next best bet.
Hire A Pro
6. Replace Old Doors and Windows
One of the best ways to reduce heating costs in the winter (and cooling costs in the summer) is to replace old doors and windows with energy efficient ones. The simple act of installing a storm door to your home can increase energy efficiency by 45%.
New, efficient windows help retain your heat in the winter and repel it in the summer for maximum efficiency year round.
There are great federal tax credits on both as well. So you can apply to get up to 10% of your cost credited back to you come tax time!
7. Tune Up Your Furnace
A furnace is a big investment and very much like your car, it needs a tune up. You should have your furnace serviced annually by a certified professional. Not only will it save you money on your heating costs (up to 5%), but it can help to ensure that everything is operating properly and safely. The good news is that many utility companies offer a free annual "check-up" on your furnace. Call your utility company and find out what they offer.
Along with furnace tune ups, duct work is responsible for a large amount of heat loss. Some studies show that 30% of heated air can be lost through leaking ducts. It's well worth it to get an HVAC professional to look over your duct system.
8. Upgrade Your Heating System
Unfortunately, furnaces don't last forever. Even if yours seems to still be functional, you may want to consider an upgrade. Putting in a new heating system can be costly, but with the efficiency increase and the tax credits (up to 10%), its often well worth it.
Plus, you can have the peace of mind in knowing that your system is newer and safer for your family. Older units have a much higher risk of failure which can result in fires or even carbon monoxide leaks.
9. Insulation Updates
Insulation is one of the best defenses against heat loss. If you live in an older home, odds are that your insulation is in need of an update. Most insulation companies will come to your home and do an insulation audit, letting you know what you currently have and what options are available to update and improve your insulation situation. Like most energy updates, be sure to take advantage of the tax credits available!
10. Have A Home Energy Audit
If you're not sure where to start, you can always have a home energy audit done. Many utility companies and HVAC companies will provide them at no cost. This way, a trained professional can go over all the options available to you so that you know exactly where your time and more importantly your money should be spent.
If you have any questions about your winterizing options, or if you're ready to look into updating your home, feel free to contact us and we can certainly help you get where you need to be.