You’ve probably gotten out your winter coat and mittens—now it’s time to winterize your home, too. Chilly mornings and potential precipitation also may equal rising utility bills. No matter if you’re combating sub-zero temps or just cool mornings and nights, small changes—some of which take just minutes—can help lower the high cost of staying warm and cozy this winter. Read on for strategies to help.
Adjust your ceiling fan
Hot air gets trapped at the ceiling, but your ceiling fan can help push it downward, which in turn helps your rooms remain warmer. Change the controls so the fan rotates clockwise at a low setting.
Time: 2 minutes.
Program your thermostat and water heater
The good thing about winter home savings strategies is that you can take incremental steps to cut as much as you want. Take the setting on your thermostat: Lower it at night by 10 degrees, and you might save up to 10 percent on your heating costs. But if that’s too cold for you, lower it by just 1 degree over an 8-hour period, and you’ll save yourself 1 percent on your home’s heating bill. Take advantage of built-in capabilities to program the thermostat to adjust temperatures during the day, when no one is at home, and at night, when you’re covered up by blankets and asleep. In addition, turn down the highest setting on your water heater to 120º to trim even more from your utility bills.
Time: 5-10 minutes to create new programmed settings.
Close off unused rooms
Don’t spend a lot of time in a guest room or attic? Close the vents and the door, too, to reduce the square feet you have to heat.
Time: 2 minutes.
Winterize your HVAC and water lines
Your HVAC system doesn’t need a weekly cleaning like the rest of your home, but it does need a tune-up at least twice a year—especially as it transitions into heavy use times such as winter and summer. Set up a service call so a technician can make sure all parts and pieces are in good working order. In addition, if you have any plumbing lines that are in uninsulated spaces or against an outside wall, cover them in pipe insulation foam (readily available at hardware stores).
Time: 5 minutes to schedule a call, 30-60 minutes for the HVAC service; 5 minutes per line for pipes.
Swap the filter
Your HVAC filter traps dust and pollutants to get them out of the air in your home, but those same dirt particles can impede the furnace’s ability to do its job well. Change filters monthly.
Time: 10 minutes.
Run a humidifier
Part of the reason we feel cold in our homes during wintertime is because of the air around us. Less humidity equals a cooler, dry feeling. A humidifier, even a small one that runs in your main living spaces, can add welcome moisture to the air, increasing your overall comfort level.
Time: 2-5 minutes (to fill water each day).
Seal your windows and doors
Cold air seeping into your home equals more work by your HVAC system to keep the interior of your home warm. Take a good look at existing doors and windows and replace or add weather stripping (to doors) and fresh caulk (to gaps in windows) to help deter those drafts and trim your utility bill.
Time: about 30 minutes, depending on needs.
Swap out holiday lights
Widely available LED lights are also wallet-friendly, and have the added bonus of a longer life, too—up to 50,000 hours. Swap your older strings for these energy-efficient options, and make sure to turn off all holiday lights at night or when you’re not at home.
Time: 10 minutes to purchase, install time varies.
Learn more about how to manage your home energy needs.