6 Easy Ways for Homeowners to Save Money on Energy Bills This Winter
Winter is right around the corner. For many homeowners, that often means enduring a season of surprisingly-high energy bills. However, there are steps that you can take to keep your energy bills as low as possible. With that in mind, we’ve listed six easy solutions below. Read them over so that you have a better idea of how you can save money on energy bills this winter.
How to save money on your energy bills in the winter
1. Take the time to seal air leaks.
Believe it or not, hidden air leaks can be one of the biggest causes of heat loss in a home. In fact, according to a study by the University of Nebraska, untreated air leaks can increase your monthly heating and cooling cost by around 30%.
The most notable sign of an air leak is when one area of your home is a noticeably different temperature than the rest. However, it’s also possible to conduct your own air leak test by holding a small piece of thread close to your walls on windy days. Put simply, if the thread moves, you have an air leak.
Often, you can fix air leaks on your own by caulking the area or using an expandable foam spray. However, if it’s a larger air leak, you may want to consider adding some insulation to the area.
2. Make your fireplace more efficient.
While the primary use of a fireplace is to keep you warm during long winter days and nights, it can also be a place from which you’re losing a lot of your home’s heat energy. To that end, you’re going to want to make sure that it is sealed up properly.
First, you should check your system for air leaks. If you find any, you’ll want to use caulk or expandable foam, as explained above, to seal up the cracks.
However, it’s also important to check your fireplace dampener to ensure that the seal is tight. In truth, this seal should only be open if you are having a fire. Otherwise, it’s an easy way for air to escape your home and an open dampener can also be an invitation for rodents or small animals.
3. Prep your furnace.
If you have a forced-air heating system, it’s important to prep your furnace before winter rolls around. Ideally, you should have it serviced by a trained professional before you turn it on for the first time each season. While the service may come with an upfront cost, it will undoubtedly be much less than replacing the entire system if it’s left to run in disrepair.
Aside from that, it’s also important to change your furnace filters regularly. Best practices recommend that you change the filter once at the beginning of the season and at least two more times throughout the winter. Remember, the filter catches harmful pollutants and it also helps the system to run more efficiently.
4. Reverse your ceiling fan blades.
Even the direction of your ceiling fan blades can have an effect on your home’s heating and cooling costs. For instance, when a fan moves counterclockwise, it pushes air downward and helps to cool things off. While that is ideal for the summer months, it can make your house feel even colder in the winter.
Instead, you should check and see if your fan has a winter setting. If it does, the fan will start to run clockwise when it’s on. The clockwise motion will push warm air downward and help pull cool air upward, which can make your home feel warmer over time.
If you are unsure whether or not your fan is on the correct setting, all you have to do is stand underneath it. If you see the fan running counterclockwise and feel a rush of air being pushed down at you, it’s still set for summer.
5. Wrap your pipes.
Unfortunately, cold weather has a tendency to have a negative impact on water pipes. As the temperature gets colder, the water inside the pipe gets colder and expands. If the water expands too much, there is a chance that the pipes could burst.
In light of that, you may want to consider wrapping your pipes. You can wrap them in fiberglass insulation or buy a special sleeve for them from your local home improvement store. Particularly if you’re a new homeowner who is not sure how the house handles winter temps, this is one instance where it is often better to be safe than sorry.
6. Invest in energy-efficient appliances.
Another thing that you can do to cut down on your energy bills this winter is to invest in new appliances. According to the CEO of Rise, a sustainable building company, investing in the right appliances can save you as much as 10% to 50% on your energy bills, depending on the age and make of the system that you are currently using.
With that in mind, if you are in the market for new energy-efficient appliances, you’re going to want to shop for ones that bear the Energy Star logo.