Seal your house. Stay cozy. Save money.
Ski season. Family holidays. Hot cocoa. Snow days. There are plenty of reasons to get excited about winter, but the return of high heating bills doesn’t make that list. You shouldn’t be punished with high energy bills just to stay comfortable in your own home.
18 Winter Home Energy Tips
1. Start with a Home Energy Check-Up performed by LEAP to get a sense of the problems — and solutions — specific to your home and some complimentary energy-saving products.
2. Make sure your window and door weatherstripping is in good condition. With a Home Energy Check-Up, we’ll check it for you and install new weatherstripping in electric homes for free if you need it.
3. Get a comprehensive home energy assessment performed by a Building Performance Institute certified auditor. You will receive a prioritized list of where and how you can get the biggest bang for your buck in energy savings. Bonus: they do a health and safety check that protects homeowners from hidden hazards such as gas leaks, carbon monoxide and excess moisture. Learn more about home energy assessments.
4. Air sealing comes first. It’s not as sexy as new windows, but it is critical. And leaks aren’t always where you think they are. Most houses have a cumulative air leak the size of a refrigerator door, and less than 10% of that comes from windows and doors. All the smaller holes in attics and basements add up. The money you put into air sealing will pay back in just 6 months to a year.
5. You can start with insulating and sealing the electrical boxes throughout the home by caulking between the box and drywall and then adding an insulated pad. In the receptacles you will also want to add childproof plugs. Another area to seal is the plumbing penetrations under sinks and behind toilets.
6. Check whether your HVAC ducts and air handler are located in the attic or crawlspace and whether they might have air leaks or poor insulation. About 20 percent of the air that moves through a duct system is lost due to leaky connections, plus poor duct insulation allows for temperature loss. These are easy and cost-effective fixes for a professional to make. Make sure all of your ducts are insulated especially if they are located in the attic or crawlspace.
7. Check the thermostat. Consider getting a programmable thermostat, and keep in mind that you can save at least 2% on your heating bill for each degree you lower the thermostat in the winter.
8. If you have an AC system independent of a furnace or boiler, make sure you close the vents and block off any return ducts so warm, conditioned air does not rise up into the system
9. Remove any window AC units if possible. If you can’t, purchase a pleated, insulated cover that fits snugly to the inside.
10. If you have curtains and large glass windows or doors, make sure they extend all the way to the floor. If they are open at the top, a boxed valance could be constructed so there is no circulation path short-circuiting their effect. This will help prevent warm air from rising up and cold air dropping down behind the curtains. Try to remember to draw the curtains closed when it gets dark.
11. For fireplaces you don’t intend to use this season, make sure the flue is closed and the openings cleaned of soot and filled with a string of rope caulk (and make a note that you have done this so you remember before the next use).
12. Take an inventory of attic and crawlspace hatches to ensure they are all weatherstripped, secured with good clasps and insulated. The same applies to adjacent wall or ceiling areas if possible.
13. Evaluate attached garages to see if they could be tightened up a bit to act as buffer zones. Ensure they are weatherstripped and sealed well around all four sides.
14. If appliances like your refrigerator are at least 10 years old, consider upgrading to a new, efficient model. There have been major advances in efficiency of these units in recent years.
15. Identify the 10-12 lighting fixtures that you use most often and replace those bulbs with energy efficient CFLs or LEDs. With a Home Energy Check-up performed by LEAP you could get complimentary CFLs, among other energy-saving products.
17. Insulate the hot water tank if it is located in unconditioned space and the hot water pipes.
18. Try using your ceiling fan to blow air up toward the ceiling to mix the warm air that rises back into the room.