A great way to maximize energy savings for little cost is to winterize your home. In fact, the U.S. Department of Energy says you can save as much as 3 percent on your energy bill for every degree you lower your home’s temperature during the winter. Here are five actions you can take now to save money throughout the coldest season:
Lower Thermostat During Off Hours
Try turning your thermostat down to 50 or 55 degrees when you go to bed or when you go to work. You can save a lot of energy by setting or programming your thermostat lower when you don’t need heat. For every degree you lower the thermostat during heating season, you’ll save between 1 and 3 percent of your heating bill.
Keep Drafts Contained
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, drafts can waste 5 to 30 percent of your energy use. Start simple and make a draft snake by placing a rolled bath towel under a drafty door. You can also fill fabric with sand or kitty litter, or buy draft guards. Try taping bubble wrap on your windows. It’s an inexpensive way to winterize your home by keeping cold air out but still allowing light to come through. Pack fiberglass insulation around basement doors and windows in unused rooms to really keep heat in. If you have old windows, consider investing in a set of energy-efficient replacements. Installing a storm door can increase energy efficiency by 45 percent by sealing drafts and reducing air flow. Make sure to look for Energy Star-certified models. Federal tax credits are available at 10 percent of cost (not including installation costs), up to $200 for windows and skylights and up to $500 for doors.
Seal Gaps With Caulk
Your energy bill will increase if you have any small gaps in windows and doors, or cracks in your walls can let cool air in. When it’s time to winterize your home, check to see if your doors and windows have deteriorated over time. Pay special attention to places where two different building materials meet, such as corners, and fill any open spots with caulk. Make sure to caulk the outside and inside. Pull off moldings to fill gaps in the insulation.
Reduce Temperature of Your Water Heater
Lowering the temperature of your water heater will reduce your water heating costs by 6 to 10 percent. Conventional water heaters are typically set at 140 degrees Fahrenheit, but most households only need a setting of 120 degrees, so set it at 120. Keep your water heater functioning at pack performance by flushing out particles and sediment through the drain valve. Over time that material can collect in the bottom of your water heater, hindering efficiency. If you are in the market for a new water heater, take advantage of the federal tax credit, which pays 30 percent of cost with no upper limit.
Reverse the Direction of Your Ceiling Fans
If a fan spins in a clockwise rotation it produces warmer air, so make sure your ceiling fans move in that direction to push hot air along the ceiling toward the floor. Using ceiling fans in winter will cut your heating costs by 10 percent, according to The Daily Green.
Interested in more ways to budget this winter? Check out “6 Ways to Save Money During the Holidays.”