Winter is on its way, so make sure your home is ready for the cold weather! Here are 3 tips to help you save energy at home this winter…
Renewable and sustainable energy isn’t just about finding alternative fuel sources – it’s also about being more efficient with the resources we already have. And you can save energy without installing pricey solar panels or even expensive triple-pane windows.
Much of the energy waste in your home is caused by things like improperly insulated pipes or drafty windows and doors. Even small fixes like this can make a big difference in your energy bills – especially when cold winter weather arrives.
We had our first taste of snow this weekend, so winter is definitely on the way! That means it’s time to make sure your home is snug and cozy and won’t cost you an arm and a leg to heat this winter.
Here are a few ways to save energy at home when the temperature drops:
Seal up your windows
“Any season of the year is a good season to seal up the house,” says James Brew, principal architect at the Rocky Mountain Institute, a nonprofit think-tank that advocates for more efficient use of natural resources. But you may notice leaky windows more in the fall or winter, particularly if drafts blowing in around the frame make you cold. In the past, we have suggested ways to turn leaky windows into powerful energy-saving windows by sealing cracks from the outside. Brew has an even easier way to cut down on leaks, and it’ll only cost you a few dollars.
The best part? You can do it all from the inside. First, take off the trim around your windows and floorboards on inside of the house walls. If you feel comfortable that you won’t get electrocuted, take off your outlet covers and pull the outlet out of the wall, as well. Then, using a low-expanding foam sealant, start filling in any cracks or small holes you might see (if you don’t see any, Brew suggests using a lit incense stick to detect air leaks).
“This is the most effective thing people can do in houses that were built before 2000, which is about 85 percent of the homes out there,” he says. While you’re doing that, he adds, take out any insulation you see there and spray your low-expanding foam in its place. “Historically, people took bad insulation and just pounded it into place with a screwdriver or the end of a hammer,” he says. In most cases, that bad insulation is pretty ineffective at keeping out drafts. “It’s literally a weekend project,” Brew says, “and you can easily see a 10 to 15 percent—or more—change in your energy bills.”
Clean your dryer
Lint can build up in your dryer’s hose and in the pipes running to the dryer’s external vent, increasing your dryer’s energy use by up to 30 percent. That not only creates a fire hazard, but it also prevents moist air from venting outside, which can cause mildew problems, particularly in winter. Vacuum out the lint filter with your vacuum cleaner’s hose attachment. Then detach the dryer hose from both the dryer and the wall, and vacuum lint from the back of the machine and from the pipes where the hose attaches to the wall. Finally, head outside to clear any linty obstructions from your dryer’s external vent.
Open the drapes
Solar heat is the best kind of heat: free. In the summer, it’s best to close the drapes during the day, to prevent heat from coming in, and then open them at night to allow the heat to escape. In the fall and winter, reverse that: Keep them open to let heat in during the day, and then close them at night to prevent it from escaping.