As the family members of House Stark would say, “winter is coming.”
Officially, the winter solstice is weeks away, but depending on where you live, temperatures may have already started to drop. Now is a great time to make sure you are prepared for colder weather. Weatherizing your home can have a major impact on your energy use during the winter months.
Here are a few things you can do to make your home more energy efficient this year.
1. Check your windows.
If you don’t have energy-efficient windows installed in your home, or if you’re renting a place, there are a few budget-friendly things you can do to keep cold air from seeping in from outside. Curtains can help — in fact, most conventional curtains can reduce heat loss from a warm room up to 10 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. You can also use plastic film to line the glass to reduce the amount of cold air that comes in through the window panes. If you own the property, you can also check for air leaks around the frame and use caulking to seal the gaps.
If you’re a homeowner, you may also consider upgrading your windows to be more energy efficient in cold and hot weather as a long-term solution.
2. Make the most of sunshine.
Any solar technician can tell you just how powerful the sun can be. But beyond powering solar panels, sunlight can also serve the simple purpose as a natural heat source for your home. During the day, make sure to open curtains on windows that face the sun to soak in the warmth, and close them at night to reduce the chill of cold window panes.
3. Take control of the thermostat.
Did you know that the simple act of lowering your thermostat 10 to 15 degrees for eight hours a day can save you up to 15 percent per year on heating costs? Smart thermostats allow you to automatically change the temperature at different times during the day, making this tip an effortless one. However, if you have an older thermostat, make a note to remember to turn down the thermostat before you leave for work every day.
4. Be smart when using alternative heat sources.
Space heaters are generally less efficient than central heating, but they can be used in some situations to increase energy efficiency. Small space heaters can be great solution if you are looking to supplement inadequate heating in a single room. They are also handy for individuals who tend to be more sensitive to the cold than others. By using a space heater to address these needs, you can avoid overheating the rest of your home.
However, it’s important to make sure that the space heater you are using is safe and efficient. Here are a few tips:
- Look for a unit with a thermostat control to more easily reach the right temperature (and save electricity).
- Select a heater of the proper size for the room where it will be used (most heaters come with a general sizing table).
- Only purchase newer model heaters with up-to-date safety features. You can find this information on the Underwriter's Laboratory (UL) label.
These tips are just a few of the things you can do to make sure your home stays extra cozy (and energy efficient) during the winter months. As a bonus, many energy efficiency best practices for keeping heat indoors in the winter are also great for keeping the heat outside in the summer. Check out our infographic on home energy use for more tips on how to save energy around your home.