Personal Finance Blog, Saving

Cold Weather Energy Saving Tips

Ol' Man WinterAhhhh, it’s the Black Sheep Family’s favorite time of year – Cool weather, football, chili, and the holidays are all in season.  As you get ready for the change in weather, here are a few cold weather energy saving tips to help keep you comfortable without breaking the bank:

Cold Weather Energy Saving Tips:

    1. Grow a beard: Guys only, unless you’re shooting for a job at the circus, ladies.  In addition to looking generally awesome, you’ll have a sexy face sweater to keep you cozy while you chop wood and fight off wolves… one-handed.  Why do you think Ol’ Man Winter has one?
       
    2. Close your crawl-space/foundation air vents: Closing your vents helps reduce the likelihood that your pipes will freeze during the winter, which also reduces the probability of incurring costly repairs.  In addition, it will keep the chill out of your crawlspace and reduce the amount of cold air leaking into your home.  I usually wait until later in the fall to do this, since the cooler weather is still nice in October and early November where we live.
       
    3. Change the direction on your ceiling fans: During the winter, you’ll want your fan to run at a low speed in a clockwise direction.  Your ceiling fan has a switch (usually just above the light fixture) to reverse the direction of the blades.  Turn your fan off, and let it come to a complete stop before flipping the switch.  Changing the direction forces the warm air near your ceiling down into the living space.  Keeping your fan running also helps reduce your thermostat’s need to fire up the heating system as often.
       
    4. Set your thermostat to the lowest comfortable setting: Since your thermostat’s settings are responsible for almost HALF of your home’s total energy usage (see: Savings Experiment: Nest Thermostat Results), try to aim for 65°F – 68°F.  According to the U.S. Department of Energy*, just turning your temperature back by 7°F – 10°F for 8 hours a day can save you as much as 10% on your bill.  If you are planning to be gone for an extended period of time (days or weeks), set your thermostat to 55°F.
       
    5. Replace air filters: Dirty filters reduce the efficiency of your heating system, and put unnecessary strain on its components.  If you have pets, or kids, or both, check them regularly and replace them as recommended.  Doing this also improves the air quality in your home and reduces respiratory problems.  We buy this brand from Amazon.
       
    6. Take advantage of the sun: Open blinds, drapes, shades, whatever you have to let the light in from your south-facing windows.  The rays from the sun will naturally heat your home during the day.  Close your drapes at night to reduce the chill seeping in from the windows.  Thicker curtains, or thermal insulated curtains, serve as insulation to keep cold air from entering
       
    7. Set your water heater thermostat to 120°F: Your water heater is your home’s second largest energy consumer (next to the heating and cooling system).  Since it accounts for about 14% – 18% of your bill and consumption, you’ll want to pay attention to its setting.  Setting the temp to 120°F will eliminate anywhere from $36 to $61 annually in standby heat losses (heat escaping from your water heater into the surrounding crawlspace or basement) and more than $400 in hot water consumption.  If you plan to be away for longer than a weekend, you can turn it off completely.  See this article for more info and detailed instructions.
       
    8. Add caulk or weatherstripping: Seal air leaks around doors and windows to prevent cold air from entering your home.
       
    9. Stock your freezer:  Everyone knows that you can save money buying in bulk, but having a full freezer also saves money on your electric bill.  That’s because it doesn’t have to work as hard to maintain the temperature, since everything inside is frozen.  If you open it frequently, or if it’s nearly empty, it requires much more energy to maintain its desired setting.
       
    10. Thaw your food: Speaking of freezers, cooking food that is already thawed uses 1/3 less energy than if you start with frozen food.  Set it on the counter to thaw, or stick it in the fridge a day or two before you plan to cook it.  Thawing it in the fridge also maintains freshness better than setting it out at room temperature does.
       
    11. Keep your fireplace damper closed: Unless you have a fire burning, keeping the damper open is like throwing money out the window…  Your warm air will escape up and out.  If you have a fire going, don’t forget to adjust the thermostat to 50°F – 55° F.

 

One other thing to do, is check with your electric company: Our electric co-op offers a free kit with pre-cut pieces of insulation that fit around outlets and light switches (to reduce air entry/escape), a low pressure shower head, and a CFL bulb or two.  All we had to do was request it online, and they mailed us a box of free goodies.  See if your electric co-op (or company) also offers a residential energy efficiency kit.

*Source: U.S. Department of Energy

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