4 Ways to Increase Home Energy Efficiency Before the Cold Sets In
The days are getting shorter and the temperatures are dropping which means… winter is coming! If only putting on that ugly holiday sweater and thinking about chestnuts roasting on an open fire could keep us warm all season long. Unfortunately, colder temperatures also mean rising utility costs in much of the country. Home heating is the largest energy expense in the average U.S. home, accounting for 45 percent of energy bills. While updating your home heating system can make a big difference, taking smaller steps to improve efficiency first can keep you warmer this winter with a modest investment that will pay off in bill savings.
- Call in a Professional – If you own your home, consider a home energy audit. According to the Department of Energy, efficiency upgrades identified during an audit can save 5 to 30 percent on your energy bills. Auditors will analyze past year’s fuel bills, interview you to learn about how your home operates, conduct interior and exterior inspections, perform a blower door test to locate air leaks, and create a comprehensive energy report to determine the best efficiency improvements. Audits can be expensive, but many utilities offer rebates and incentives. You can also follow this DIY Home Energy Audit guide to help pinpoint the easiest areas to address.
- Get “Smart” with Your Thermostat – Smart thermostats can increase awareness of your energy habits and help you make small adjustments to save big while staying warm. By setting the thermostat down by 8 degrees during the daytime while away from home and during nighttime, you can save up to $180 a year. Many utilities and even insurance companies offer rebates on smart thermostats.
- Stop the Leak – Sealing air leaks in older or drafty buildings can save more than 20 percent on heating and cooling bills. Apply tape, foam, or felt weather-stripping to doors and caulk the joints around window frames and between the frame and the wall. These tips are low-cost and easy to DIY.
- Harness the Sun – Take advantage of the sun’s natural solar radiation by opening the curtains on south-facing windows during the day and closing them at night. Consider investing in multi-layer, insulated curtains to make the biggest difference.
Big or small, there is something each of us can do to make our homes more comfortable this winter through energy efficiency.