Another winter in the Midwest is upon us, and it’s turning out to be an especially brutal one so far! Is your home up to the challenge of keeping you warm while keeping your energy bills from skyrocketing from now until spring finally arrives?
Since we’re in the home inspection business here in the St. Louis Metro East region, we frequently see examples of homeowners who’ve managed to harness and tame energy-sapping issues, as well as those at the opposite end of the spectrum who either don’t realize that there’s a lot more they could be doing, or who simply don’t mind paying more for energy (although we doubt that many of the latter actually exist!).
We did a few simple Google searches to see what professionals at energy-focused agencies have to say on the subject and took the liberty of compiling a list of tips to help you stay comfortable this winter all while keeping a few extra dollars in your wallet instead of in the coffers of your energy provider …
Tip #1: Install a Programmable Thermostat
Investing in a programmable thermostat may be one of the smartest energy-saving moves you can make because it allows you to heat your home to a comfortable level during your waking/at-home hours, and turn down the heat to save money while you’re sleeping or away for several hours each day at work, running errands, or visiting friends. The best programmable thermostats allow you to set a weekday and a weekend schedule, and once it’s set, you’re done. You don’t have to think about it again, because the thermostat’s program will handle your home’s temperature for you.
Tip #2: Zip Up Your Home’s “Winter Jacket”
Just as you’re bound to be colder if you go outside with your coat wide open and without your hat and gloves, your home’s going to be colder — and your heating system will have to work harder — if you forget about making sure everything’s tightly “buttoned up” for the winter. That means addressing drafts around windows and doors, and installing energy-efficient window coverings like cellular shades, especially on older windows and windows that face north. Don’t forget to attach “sweeps” to the bottoms of doors too, which can let in a surprising amount of cold air — while simultaneously allowing precious warm air to escape. While you’re at it, check for air leaks around electrical outlets and air registers, and make sure to seal them off.
And don’t forget about your home’s winter “hat”! We’re talking about attic insulation, which is vitally important since, as we all know, heat rises. If your attic isn’t properly insulated, all that rising heat will rise up into the attic and escape through vents, walls and the roof. And don’t forget about the attic door or hatch — as many people tend to do!
Tip #3: Put Your Home on an Electrical Diet
Switching from traditional to energy-efficient CFL (compact fluorescent lamps) or LED (light-emitting diodes) bulbs may seem expensive at the outset, but they’ll save you so much money over time that you’ll marvel at the fact that you didn’t make the switch sooner! According to many experts, switching from standard incandescent to CFL or LED bulbs can save you anywhere from 50 to 75 percent on your lighting costs. Using Energy Star certified lighting fixtures can help you save even more, so if you need a new lamp or light fixture, make sure to check for that Energy Star label!
You can avoid energy “vampires” like small appliances that continue to suck power even when not in use by plugging things into a power strip and getting into the happen of flicking it off when you’re not going to be at home, or before you go to bed at night.
Tip #4 Take Care of Your Furnace or Boiler
If you haven’t already, schedule a check up and cleaning with your heating company, and make sure that you change filters regularly to keep the system from having to work harder to keep your home warm.
Tip #5 Reduce Your Water Heater’s Temperature
Turning down the temperature on your water heater to 130 degrees can save energy and money whenever you heat water for laundry, the dishwasher or a shower, and so can wrapping it in a special designed “blanket” to keep it insulated.
These are just a few of the things you can do to ensure that you’re not spending more than you need to on energy this winter, making you and your family more comfortable both physically and financially while we all hang on through the cold winter months and look forward to the coming of the warmer temperatures of springtime in our area!
PS: If you’re considering making offers on a new home in the St. Louis Metro East area, be sure to contact us at Rigid Inspections before you buy!