We all know that the weather doesn't actually depend on whether Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow on Groundhog's Day. Either way, winter weather will continue to linger for at least a little while longer and that will impact your home energy use. If you've managed to make it this far without weatherizing your home, you may think it's too late to make a difference. But that's not the case!
Here are a few last-minute energy efficiency hacks to keep you warm during the last days of winter.
1. Let the sunshine in.
Sunlight can serve as a natural heat source for your home. Open curtains on windows that face the sun during the day for extra warmth, and close them at night to reduce the chill from cold windows.
2. Make some quick fixes.
If you don't already have energy-efficient windows installed in your home, there are a few budget-friendly alternatives that are easy to install. Curtains can help keep cold air out; most conventional curtains can reduce heat loss from a warm room up to 10 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. To reduce heat lost, curtains should be hung as close to the windows as possible and fall onto a windowsill or the floor. You can also tape plastic film to the inside of window frames to reduce heat loss from the window panes. You can also check for air leakage around the frame, and use caulking to seal the gaps.
As for long-term solutions, consider upgrading your windows to be more energy efficient in cold and hot weather.
3. Mind the thermostat.
Lowering your thermostat 10 to 15 degrees for eight hours a day can save you up to 15 percent per year on your heating bill. If you have a programmable thermostat, use it! If not, do it the old fashioned way and make a note to turn down the thermostat before you leave for work each day.
4. Use space heaters wisely.
While space heaters are generally less efficient than central heating, they can be used in certain situations to increase energy efficiency. We all know that one person who is more sensitive to the cold than everyone else — you can usually find them curled up under a blanket somewhere. Small space heaters can be an solution if you are looking to supplement inadequate heating in one room. That way, the chilly individual can stay warm without having to overheat your entire home.
To make sure your space heater is safe and efficient, use the following tips:
- Select a heater of the proper size for the room it will be used in to waste less energy. Most heaters come with a general sizing table.
- Look for a unit with a thermostat control to more easily avoid overheating a room.
- Only purchase newer model heaters with up-to-date safety features. Hint: Look for the Underwriter's Laboratory (UL) label.
5. Start planning for next year
The U.S. Department of Energy website offers a number of tips on how to weatherize your home. Many energy efficiency best practices are beneficial for keeping heat indoors in the winter and keeping the heat outside in the summer. There's no time like the present to get started! Check out our infographic on home energy use for more tips on how to save energy around your home.