Winter Is Coming: Get Ready with These Energy Saving Tips

Winter is coming, and for anyone living in a cold weather part of the world, that means climbing (sometimes catapulting) energy costs, as the temperatures fall and we strive to stay warm.

mmt-winter-is-comingIf you’re lucky enough to live in warm weather climate, then you can pass this information onto your less fortunate friends up North. If you’re like most of us, and have already started to feel the anxiety that comes with several months of temperatures dipping below 40 degrees, this post is for you.

Is a higher electric bill hard to avoid in the winter months, yes. But it doesn’t have to break the bank.

Here are a few easy fixes to keep your costs as stable as possible from October – March (or April, depending on how long your part of the world endures winter).

Request a Home Energy Audit – This is offered by many electric companies for a nominal fee, or for absolutely no cost. Someone will come to your house, take a look around and provide some tips and tools for keeping the heat in and the cold air out. The audit is fast and easy, and will likely uncover some places in your home that need some serious reinforcement.

For more information on home energy audits, check out: the energy.gov website.

Turn Your Appliances Down – The advice for heating systems is similar to the advice we dole out for cooling systems in the hotter months. Turn it down when you’re away or asleep, and you’ll save big over the course of the season. The general rules are as follows:

  • Thermostat – Lower the temperature by 10 – 15 degrees for the 8 or so hours you’re away from the house or in bed. As long as you have a good comforter, you won’t notice the difference, and you’ll save 10% annually on your energy bill. To make this even easier, invest in a programmable thermostat, so the temperature goes up and down at scheduled times, without you having to do anything. Bonus: you can adjust the temperature when you’re on vacation or away on business, from your laptop computer or smartphone.
  • Hot Water Heater – Water heating consumes 18% of the energy used in your home. To control this expense, lower the temperature of your hot water heater to between 120 – 125 degrees F. If the shower gets hot enough at this temperature, then leave it where it is. If it’s a little cool for your taste, then gradually increase the temperature of your heater until the water is comfortable.

Seal Up the Windows and Doors – The easiest way to let the cold air in and the heated air (that you’re paying for) out, is to ignore your drafty windows and doors. While replacing those old, single-paned glass windows can be a big and expensive project, there are plenty of ways to make due until the warmth comes back.

  • Invest in some good old fashioned plastic sheeting. Is this the most attractive way to view your yard? Perhaps not, but this low cost treatment can save you a lot in terms of energy loss and heating costs.
  • Go a little further, and invest in some caulking and weatherstripping around windows, which can dramatically reduce air leakage. According to energy.gov, you should use caulk for stationary cracks, gaps, or joints less than one-quarter-inch wide, and weatherstripping for building components that move, such as doors and operable windows.

Add a Humidifier – As we know, a furnace blows out hot and dry air. What you may not know is that dry air isn’t as good at holding onto heat. In addition, dry air doesn’t FEEL as warm. In order to make the most of your furnace’s hard work, add humidifier. As you increase the moisture in the air, heat is help more effectively and the air will FEEL warmer. Like magic, only more like science.

Don’t Forget the Car – Last but not least, let’s not forget the car. As the temperature of the air goes down, so does the pressure in your tires. This is simple physics. As the temperature falls, the air packs more tightly and exerts less pressure on the tire itself. When the pressure in your tires falls below the recommended level, not only does your gas mileage take a hit, but you’re also more susceptible to a tire blow out. Not fun in the summer, and definitely high on the list of annoyances in the cold and icy months.

So there you have it. None of these suggestions take much time or money, and all of them will provide some savings in your monthly energy bill.

Winter is coming, and we have no way of knowing how bad it will be or how long it will last. Take some time to prepare your home and vehicle for the worst. And then be sure to reward yourself with a big mug of the finest hot chocolate.

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