11 Tips to Save Energy Costs This Winter

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As Game of Thrones’ great Ned Stark never got the chance to say, winter is here.

What’s unique about Midwest weather patterns is that summer and winter reach both extremes of the temperature gauge compared to the rest of the country. It’s blistering hot and humid in the summer, and frigid in the winter, which can both wreak havoc on your energy costs.

These higher energy costs can have homeowners scrambling to save. And, even if you average your energy costs throughout the year, the winter is always the best time to do a little extra so that you can lower that annual average. Here are some quick tips to save during the winter:

1. Cover drafty doors and windows

We discussed ways to address drafty windows and doors in a previous blog [link blog]. Door snakes, window film, weather stripping, expanding foam and caulking are all temporary fixes to drafty window and doors. In addition, specialized insulating curtains are a great way to combat drafty windows.

2. Manage your fireplace

Cozying up around a fireplace is a great way to save money on heating costs, and it provides its own unique form of intimacy as well. However, it’s important to ensure your fireplace is closed when not in use and the door to it adequately seals to protect your home from the cold lurking in a drafty, unused chimney.

3. Seal off the chimney

If you choose not to use your fireplace, a chimney balloon is a cost-effective way to seal off your chimney without putting in too much effort and will really save you on heating and cooling costs.

4. Holiday lighting timers

You can skip the holiday lighting altogether, but where’s the fun in that? Purchase a lighting timer and set it so your decorative lighting goes dark when you’re away from the home or asleep. Your neighbor and electric bill will appreciate it. Plus, it only lowers the chance of the lighting overheating and catching fire. We call that a win-win-win.

5. LED holiday lighting

Speaking of holiday lighting, ditch your old set and purchase a set of LED holiday lights. LED lights not only save energy but they’re brighter too!

6. Program your thermostat

Many new houses already have one, but programmable thermostats are relatively inexpensive to install. After installation, you can set these so your house remains at a lower temperature when no one is home, but sets back to the normal temperature when you return. You won’t even have to touch it once it’s programmed. Set it and forget it, until the weather warms up again, that is.

7. Drop your temperature: wear hoodies, warm covers

This is old-fashioned, but it works. You can only remove so many layers in the summer, but you can add plenty of them in the winter. Set your thermostat to a lower temperature and cozy up with hoodies, slippers, sweatpants and blankets.  This works even better with a cozy fireplace as mentioned earlier.

8. Solar heating

By solar heating, we mean opening your windows. The sun doesn’t have a winter, so it still gives off heat even during cold winter days. Open up the blinds and let the sunlight heat up your living room. Why waste all that free energy?

9. Run your fan in reverse

Heat rises, so setting your ceiling fan in reverse will help pull down that warm air from your ceiling.

10. Get an energy audit

Also known as an energy assessment, energy audits evaluate what areas of your home could use a tune-up. These tune-ups can improve your home’s energy efficiency significantly. Contact a local professional for an assessment!

11. Seal the attic

Not only does sealing the attic keep the cold air out of your main levels, but it can prevent roof-damaging ice dams as well. Ice dams occur when your gutters are clogged and the snow on your roof melts. This is usually caused by heat in your attic warming the roof. The water seeps under the shingles, lifting them off your roof and potentially causing leaks into your home.