7. Winterize windows and doors.
If you live in a place with long, cold winters and your home is drafty, it’s definitely worth investing in winterizing supplies. Double-sided foam tape can help plug gaps along the edges and bottom of exterior doors and window frames so the wind doesn’t whistle through your kitchen.
If you notice lots of cold air coming through the windows, consider getting a window insulator kit. Most kits contain what looks like a large roll of ordinary double-sided tape and several giant sheets of plastic wrap. Installation is simple. Outline the window frame with double-sided tape, stretch an appropriate-sized piece of plastic wrap over the window, and blow dry the plastic until it tightens up like a drum. Yes, your windows will look a little odd for a day or two until you get used to it, but the difference in warmth is noticeable.
8. Turn down appliances.
Besides your HVAC system itself, the fridge, freezer, and hot water heater are probably the biggest energy users in your home. Check the thermostat in your refrigerator and freezer; your fridge should be set between 37 and 40 degrees and your freezer at about 5 degrees. Hot water heaters are typically set at 140 degrees, but you can probably get away with setting yours at 120 degrees unless you have health concerns that require extra-hot water. For more tips on optimizing home energy use, check out the U.S. Department of Energy website.
9. Insulate hot water pipes.
If you have easy access to your hot water heater, hot water pipes, and heating ducts, insulate them with foam or insulator foil. It’s a little bit of trouble, but the energy-saving results are impressive, especially considering that the materials are relatively inexpensive.
10. Install a programmable thermostat.
A programmable or smart thermostat can save you a bundle on your electric bill by automatically lowering (or raising) the temperature in your home while you’re not there. Some, like the Nest, actually learn your habits and adjusts as necessary to make the most efficient use of your heating and cooling system. Installation varies from “anyone with a screwdriver can do it” to “get a pro to do it,” so make sure you know what you’re getting into before you buy!
11. Install ceiling fans and use them wisely.
Did you know that ceiling fans aren’t just for the summer months? In addition to providing a cool breeze on a hot day, they can also be useful in the wintertime. It all has to do with which direction the blades are rotating. Set your fan turning counterclockwise in the summer to create the most air movement in the center of the room and make you feel cooler. In cooler months, turn it on low in a clockwise direction to send rising warm air to the edges of the room, mixing the warmer and cooler air and keeping your room at a steadier temperature.
Save the planet, save your wallet
Making your home more energy efficient isn’t just good for the environment, it’s good for your pocketbook. Even if you’re not quite ready to go full geothermal or install thousands of dollars of solar panels on your roof, these easy tips will nonetheless go a long way towards shrinking your carbon footprint.
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