In the U.S., heating is the largest single expense in the average household’s energy budget each year, accounting for about 30%—cooling accounts for 13%.
Of course, some parts of the country get colder weather than others. But winter months can be chilly across the nation, and we still need our heaters to help us cope with that cold, which can lead to a spike in energy use.
Let’s look at a few simple ways we can cut back on our winter heating costs.
Flip Your Fans
In winter, try setting your ceiling fans to spin clockwise—there’s usually a switch that controls direction on the bottom of the motor housing. Your room will feel cozier because the fan is pushing the warm that’s collected near the ceiling back down toward the floor. And you’ll be stay comfy with your thermostat at a lower setting.
Keep Vents and Filters Clean and Clear
Your heating system will work a lot harder than it has to if you’ve got vents and registers blocked with furniture, drapes or other objects. Make sure there’s nothing obstructing air flow, including dust that can accumulate on vent openings.
And be sure to stay on top of your system’s filter changes. This will help it run more efficiently and prolong its life, and you’ll be able to breathe easier with cleaner air. And did you know you can have new filters sent to you every time you’re due for a change? Second Nature offers these filters in all sizes and thicknesses and ships them right to your door. Sign up through Infinite Energy, and get your first shipment for free!
Weatherproof Your Windows
Experts say about 30% of the energy used to heat and cool the average U.S. home is lost through inefficient windows. It’s costly to have them all replaced, but, luckily, there are other options to increase efficiency. Storm window inserts, insulated curtains and even replacing the worn seals on old windows are all good ways to save energy, and they’re relatively inexpensive. Click here for a good read from the U.S. Energy Department on the various types of window treatments that can help you conserve—you’ve got lots of options.
Try a Thermostat That Thinks
Smart thermostats are one of the easiest ways to save energy on heating—and cooling. Controllable anywhere with a laptop, tablet or phone, they learn your behaviors and preferences and then program themselves to help you conserve energy.
Here at Infinite Energy, the Google Nest Learning Thermostat is our favorite—it’s something we carry, and our customers can get it at a discount. On average, it saves homeowners between 10% and 12% on heating and up to 15% off cooling.
But no matter what kind of thermostat you have, experts say you don’t want to run your heat higher than 68 degrees if possible. Every degree of heat above that can add 2% to 3% onto your bill.
Limit Those Leaks
Drafty rooms can be a nightmare, making your home uncomfortable and driving up energy costs. Luckily, finding air leaks isn’t too complicated, and sealing them up is a relatively inexpensive fix. Plugging these holes could save you up to 20% a year on your energy costs, according to the U.S. Energy Department.
To find leaks, you can start with a thermal leak detector, available at most hardware stores for about $25 to $40. Or you can try the age-old smoke test. For this second option, shut your home’s doors, windows and vents, and then turn on any exhaust fans you might have (kitchen and bathrooms) to help depressurize your home. Finally, light a stick of incense and pass it by any areas where you suspect an air leak. If you’ve got one, the smoke will either be drawn in or pushed away from the source.
Small gaps, ¼-inch wide or less, around windows, doors, vents and outlets can be filled with caulking—though for windows and doors you might find you just need to replace a length of worn weather stripping. Larger gaps, such as those often found where window or door frames meet the wood framing of the house, can be filled with expanding foam. You might end up having to temporarily remove pieces of door or window trim in such cases, as such leaks and gaps are often hidden beneath. And you may have to trim the foam with a knife after it’s cured. Expanding foam can fill gaps as wide as 3 inches.
At Infinite Energy, we’re always looking for ways to help you save—it’s just one more way we’re Doing More for You. We hope these tips help you become more energy efficient this winter.