7 Energy-Saving Tips for the Winter Season

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It’s time to get cozy! Here are some energy-saving tips for staying warm this winter, and reducing your impact on the planet.

Winter is just around the corner (or has already arrived in some areas of the country), and with it comes the need to find a way to keep safe and warm throughout the cold months ahead. Whether you heat with wood, oil, gas, electricity, or some other method, your choice does have an impact on the environment – and on your heating bills.

Here are just a few energy-saving tips for staying warm this winter, while saving money and reducing the negative impact on our planet at the same time:

1. Use insulated curtains or shades

When the sun goes down, close the curtains or shades to keep the cold out and keep the heat inside your home.  In the daytime, however, you can open them up to let the heat of the sunshine in – this is called “passive solar heating,” and it can truly make a difference on how much energy you use during the day.

2.  Use the recommended settings on a programmable thermostat

You probably already know that you should adjust your thermostat for times when you are at home and not at home.  However, many people do not know what the optimal or recommended temperatures are to cut down on energy usage.

Here they are:
64 F (18 C) when sleeping or when away at work
61 F (16 C) when gone on vacation
70 F (21 C) when sitting
68 F (20 C) when cooking, cleaning, exercising

3.  Have your furnace inspected regularly

Making sure that your furnace is operating efficiently can help save energy, and also reduce the chances of dangerous carbon monoxide buildup in your home. You will also want to be sure to clean or replace furnace filters regularly, and keep your air registers clear of furniture, clothing, or other obstructions. These tips can all help keep your furnace operating at peak efficiency.

4.  Consider your fireplace

Nothing seems cozier than sitting in front of a crackling fire.  However, there are some things you need to know about your fireplace.  If you have a wood-burning fireplace, a lot of heat loss can occur through the chimney, both when it is in use and not in use.  Be sure that the damper is closed when the fireplace is not in use.  It also helps to have a fan or blower connected to your fireplace to distribute the heat when in use.

If you are in the process of choosing a fireplace, a gas (natural gas or propane) fireplace is a better option than a wood-burning one in terms of preventing heat loss and reducing environmental pollution (they produce less carbon monoxide and particulate emissions).  In addition, gas fireplaces require less maintenance from you – no cleaning of ashes, for example.  As with any device that uses energy, there are still some carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions that go into the air, so you want to choose one that is energy-efficient and contributes the least amount of damage to the environment.

5.  Use a timer for your block heater (if you use one)

People in some of the northern States and Canada are most familiar with the use of block heaters on their cars.  You can save electricity by using an automatic timer for the plugin on your block heater.  You only need to have the timer set to start three hours prior to when you need to start your engine.

6.  Weather-strip and seal more than just your doors and windows

You may be surprised to learn that up to 50% of the warm air exiting your home does so through uninsulated (or poorly insulated) electrical outlets, your basement header section, and under your baseboards.  Another 20% can exit through gaps and small holes on the outside of your home where there are cables, pipes, and wiring.  Outside dryer vents should also have hinged flap covers in place to reduce the loss of heat from your home.

7. Minimize the length of time that your bathroom and exhaust fans are left on

These fans remove heat from your home in the winter.  If you have trouble remembering to turn them off after use, you can find newer bathroom fans that come with automatic timers on them.

These simple energy saving tips are all easy to implement, reduce energy usage and pollution, and can lower your heating bills this winter.

 

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