No-Cost and Low-Cost Tips to Save Energy This Winter

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Some of the tips below are free and can be used on a daily basis to increase your savings; others are simple and inexpensive actions you can take to ensure maximum savings through the winter.

If you haven’t already, conduct an energy audit to find out where you can save the most, and consider making a larger investment for long-term energy savings.

Take advantage of heat from the Sun. Open curtains on your south-facing windows during the day to allow sunlight to naturally heat your home, and close them at night to reduce the chill you may feel from cold windows.

Covering drafty windows can also save you money. Use a heavy-duty, clear plastic sheet on a frame or tape clear plastic film to the inside of your window frames during the cold winter months. Make sure the plastic is sealed tightly to the frame to help reduce infiltration.

Install tight-fitting, insulating drapes or shades on windows that feel drafty after weatherizing. Find out about other window treatments and coverings that can improve energy efficiency.

Adjust the Temperature. When you are home and awake, set your thermostat as low as is comfortable.

When you are asleep or out of the house, turn your thermostat back 10°–15° for eight hours and save around 10% a year on your heating and cooling bills. A programmable thermostat can make it easy to set back your temperature.

You can find and seal leaks. Seal the air leaks around utility cut-throughs for pipes (“plumbing penetrations”), gaps around chimneys and recessed lights in insulated ceilings, and unfinished spaces behind cupboards and closets. Add caulk or weatherstripping to seal air leaks around leaky doors and windows.

You can schedule service for your heating system and find out what maintenance is required to keep your heating system operating efficiently. If you have a furnace you should replace your furnace filter once a month or as needed. If you have a wood burning fireplace you should clean the flue vent regularly and clean the inside with a wire brush periodically to ensure that your home is heated efficiently.

Reduce heat loss from the fireplace to lower your energy bills. Keep your fireplace damper closed unless a fire is going. Keeping the damper open is like keeping a window wide open during the winter; it allows warm air to go right up the chimney.

If you do use the fireplace, install tempered glass doors and a heat-air exchange system that blows warmed air back into the room.

Water heating can account for 14%-25% of the energy consumed in your home.

Turn down the temperature of your water heater to the warm setting (120°F). You’ll not only save energy, you’ll avoid scalding your hands.

Use light-emitting diode—or “LED”—holiday light strings to reduce the cost of decorating your home for the winter holidays.

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