Here’s How to Cut Down on Your Energy Spending This Winter
As temperatures start to drop, homeowners and renters alike start to become concerned with their spending. After all, the U.S. Department of Energy estimates that 56% of all energy used in U.S. homes is for heating and cooling. Ultimately, staying warm can come with a hefty price tag.
That is, unless you take steps to cut costs. Although you could always make a pledge to wear your winter parka indoors to save money, there are other ways to reduce your energy usage — and still dress normally. Here are some tips that will lower your energy bills this winter without all the fuss.
Seal and Ventilate
If your home allows warm air to escape, you’ll have a harder time keeping it at a comfortable temperature. That means your HVAC system will have to work a lot harder, which translates to additional spending. It’s no wonder, then, that proper attic insulation can save you anywhere from 10% to 50% on your heating and cooling bills. Before winter really hits, perform an assessment to find where the leaks might be. Some sealing projects, like caulking and weather stripping, can be DIY jobs, while amping up attic or basement insulation should be done by a professional.
But while keeping warm air inside is important, you’ll want to make sure that the quality of that air is up to your standards. Since studies have found that certain organic levels can be two to five times higher indoors than outdoors, you’ll want to ensure that the air circulating throughout your home won’t cause health issues for your family. Proper ventilation should go hand-in-hand with home sealing, as sealing leaks without considering ventilation could actually cause other problems (like excessive moisture). Take a closer look at exhaust fans, duct systems, and other components to ensure these are installed, cleaned, and repaired properly to make certain your home will be comfortable for all — and that your system will last for longer.
Dress Up Your Windows
You don’t necessarily have to go through a major renovation to save energy and money. You might just need to get some new accessories for your windows. By switching out conventional blinds for blackout curtains, you could save up to 25% on heating costs. These curtains block out excessive light and noise, which can be helpful in keeping a room warm (and quiet) at night. That said, remember to open those curtains on sunny days to make the most of natural heat. You can also add protective window film to older panes to keep the cold air out. This film is incredibly easy to install and can be a great option for renters who aren’t able to make many significant changes.
Adjust Your Thermostat
Of course, one of the most effective ways to reduce your energy bill is to adjust your thermostat. Turning your thermostat down a bit while you sleep or while you’re away at work can save you an estimated $180 per year on energy bills. Installing a smart thermostat is an even better idea, as these adjustments will be made automatically. Rather than remembering to manually turn the temperature up or down, this system can be easily programmed and controlled, no matter where you are. Being able to passively save money on these monthly bills will make any extra installation costs well worth it.
Schedule an Inspection
It may not be what you want to hear, but saving money on heating bills may come down to scheduling an inspection with an HVAC technician. If it’s been a year or so since you had your system looked at — or your bills have been steadily increasing each year with no obvious cause — you may get some information that will allow you to make better budgeting choices and reduce your overall usage. Even if there aren’t any big issues to fix, your technician may be able to suggest new options or help you prepare for what’s to come. The more information you have pertaining to your system health and energy usage, the better off you’ll be.
With the holidays fast approaching, you’ll probably want to do everything possible to cut down on unnecessary costs. While you can’t eliminate the need for heating, you can take some steps to reduce your usage and your monthly payments.