As temperatures drop, the money spent to maintain a warm and cozy house can quickly increase. To prepare your home for the winter, several steps can help make your residence more energy efficient and keep your electricity bill from breaking the bank.
In many parts of the country, people spend more time indoors during the winter months, often leading to higher use of heat, lighting, and electronics. Many may keep their thermostat warmer and use more hot water. All of these factors can lead to a higher electric bill. Some gas heating systems use electricity too, using it to move warm air throughout the house. Even if your energy usage doesn’t change much in the winter, it can still require more electricity to heat your home when the outside temperatures are lower. Sometimes, having an older heating system or water heater, poor insulation, and leaky windows can contribute to higher bills.
From home heating and cooling systems and lighting to electronics and appliances, many items in the home may require electricity. In the winter, HVAC systems typically use the most energy, followed by water heaters, home appliances like a refrigerator, washer and dryer, electric stove, and home lighting.
If more time is spent inside when winter temps drop outside, getting a house winter-ready can be essential to keeping energy costs within budget. Some steps can be taken throughout the year to help prep your home for the colder months ahead.
Fallen leaves can quickly clog gutters, which can result in significant roof or gutter damage once the weather turns snowy or icy. It’s a good idea to clean them out now before temperatures drop and icy or snowy conditions arrive.
If there are any gaps between door and window frames, water, cold air, and critters can get inside the house. Replacing worn exterior caulk with new, waterproof sealant that won’t crack or break down over time can make a big difference in keeping warm air in and cold air out. If you have any spaces more than an inch wide, you could plug the holes with a foam filler that expands for an airtight seal.
A furnace usually has to work harder to function properly when filters are old or dirty. Regularly changing the filters in an HVAC system can greatly improve the efficiency of a furnace. Filters should be changed monthly. Consider having your furnace serviced periodically to make sure it is working properly.
If a winter storm hits, you don’t want to be caught without snow removal tools. Consider making a checklist of important items, such as snow shovels, ice scrapers, rock salt or sand for your walkways to improve traction, a snow blower, and snow brushes.
Without proper insulation around pipes, they may burst when temperatures drop. You may want to protect pipes with foam rubber sleeves or fiberglass insulation. Heating tape can also be wrapped around them before putting on insulation to help ensure they do not freeze. You might want to start looking for pipes in crawlspaces and other unheated areas since these pipes can be most susceptible to the cold.
Insulation can deteriorate over time, allowing precious heat to escape through holes and gaps. It’s important to inspect your insulation and add more if needed. Adding an insulating cover over the attic can assist with trapping in heat.
Lowering your energy use can be beneficial during any season but can be especially effective in the winter months. Try dressing in extra layers, even while indoors, to avoid having to hike up the thermostat. Other ways to lower energy usage include:
Reducing energy consumption can benefit the environment and your budget during every season. With today’s technology, there are now more options for smart thermostats and home appliances and devices that are designed to minimize energy use and offer a more hands-off approach to saving electricity. Other helpful year-round energy-saving tips include:
Making a home more energy efficient doesn’t have to be costly or happen simultaneously. Each step to save energy can have a positive financial impact and keep costs in check throughout the year. Checking with your energy provider can also suggest cutting back energy usage and which maintenance tasks should be performed each season to keep systems running smoothly.