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Three Easy Tips to Cut Your Winter Energy Use

It’s that time of year again. It’s getting cold, and we’ll soon be spending a little more on our energy bills as we try to keep cozy. So with that in mind, here are three easy tips to cut your winter energy use.

68 is Great

According to many experts, 68 degrees is the magic number you should be setting your thermostat to in winter during waking hours when you’re home. This temperature offers comfort and energy savings. When there’s no one at home or when everyone is asleep at night, bump your thermostat even lower. For every degree lower you set it, you’ll save between 1-3% off your heating costs. And that can add up to big savings over the course of the winter.

If that’s too chilly for you, set it a little higher. But keep in mind experts don’t recommend heating over 72 degrees, as energy efficiency goes down dramatically. Wearing warmer clothes inside is always a great option to cut down on the chill.

Also, if you’ve got a basic thermostat—one that’s adjusted manually—consider purchasing a programmable or smart thermostat. These are especially helpful if your home is empty for hours at a time each day—we know it’s easy to forget to make regular temperature adjustments before leaving. With a programmable thermostat, you can set specific temperatures for certain times of day well ahead of time. And smart thermostats go even further, learning the temperatures you like and then adjusting themselves accordingly—we like the Google Nest Learning Thermostat. You can also check and adjust a smart thermostat like the Nest with your phone, tablet or computer, even when you’re not home. Click here for a quick video on installing a smart thermostat.

Wrap Your Windows

If you’ve got older windows, it’s likely they don’t offer much protection against the cold. A single layer of glass, used in most older windows, doesn’t provide much of an insulating layer. And it’s also likely cold air leaks in around the edges of the glass or around the frame itself. An easy solution is to cover them on the inside with a layer of clear plastic shrink wrap.

The shrink wrap, which is attached to the face of your inside window molding, helps create an air layer between itself and your window that helps hold in the heat. You can find kits at places like Walmart and Home Depot that are meant for different sized windows. These kits come with the wrap, double-sided tape and a few other odds and ends. All you’ll need is a hairdryer to help tighten the plastic with a little heat when you’re done installing it. Click here for a short video on how to shrink-wrap your windows.

Tweak That Tank

When was the last time you touched your hot water heater? If it’s a few years old, there’s a chance it’s warm to the touch, which means you’re losing a lot of heat and wasting money on the energy it takes to warm your water. The good news is: It’s relatively inexpensive to wrap it with an insulator, and the savings, since you always use hot water, works all year long, not just in winter. Wrapping an uninsulated hot water heater can save you 7% to 16% on the cost of energy used to heat water each year. It takes about an hour, on average, to suit your water heater up. And pre-cut water heater blankets can be picked up from home and hardware stores for about $30. Click here for a quick video on wrapping your tank.

When you’re done, check your water heater’s temperature gauge. Experts recommend setting this at 120 degrees or cooler to save energy and prevent scalding water burns. If yours is set higher, you should be able to lower it once it’s been insulated.

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