5 Seasonal Energy Efficiency Tips to Prepare You for Winter
Fall is in the air – finally. Temperatures are down to manageable levels once again, fashionistas can wear layers again without fear of sweating to death, and coffee lovers get to rehash their annual debate about the veracity of the pumpkin spice latte.
If you’re a homeowner, you also know this is the time of year for all manner of Do-It-Yourself home improvement projects. That’s right: preparing your home to be energy efficient in fall really means that you’re ensuring your home is ready for the cold weather of winter.
“But it’s not actually wintering yet!” Yes, we know. That’s completely the point. You don’t want to be on the roof of your house, in your attic, under your house, or doing big-time work when it’s actually cold outside, do you? We didn’t think so.
Fall home energy efficiency projects are actually winterization projects. And the best part, you’re killing two birds with one stone – by completing these 5 tasks now, you’re reducing your home energy bills now and shoring up your home against harsh winter weather later.
#1 Take Care of Your Furnace
This is a two-pronged tip:
- Have a professional inspect your furnace; and
- Change out your furnace filter regularly.
You want to have a professional conduct a seasonal inspection now before it gets cold because there might be discounts on the price and better scheduling options available. Also, unless you are a licensed HVAC expert, you need that professional to check out your furnace for errors before winter gets here. Furthermore, you should replace that furnace filter every month (unless the manufacturer recommends otherwise), as the furnace will only operate like it should if the filter is clean.
#2 Use Cost-Saving Thermostat Settings
Your heating and cooling system accounts for a large proportion of your home’s energy bill, so by using more energy-efficient settings on your thermostat, you can lower your energy usage and still keep your family comfortable.
- If you (or anyone) is at home during the day, aim for 68° F (20° C) to 72° F (22° C).
- If the home is empty during the day, or you’re asleep at night, 66° F (19° C) to 62° F (17° C) will work best.
While those settings might seem cool at first glance, they are quite pleasant, especially when paired with wearing seasonally appropriate clothing like sweaters and socks around the house. And the entire task is made simpler if you use a programmable thermostat correctly.
#3 Seal Those Drafts
This tip applies to any doors and windows in your home that opens to the outside. You want to ensure that the warm air your furnace is creating doesn’t leak outside and get replaced by cold seasonal air. The more cooled air that enters your home, the harder your furnace works to warm that air, which means your furnace is working overtime and costing you money.
There are two ways to tell if you’re having trouble with drafts:
- If a piece of paper placed in the door jamb slips around easily once the door is closed; and
- If you can see obviously cracked, broken, or torn seals around the door and/or window.
To seal these drafts and keep your warm air inside your home, purchase replacement weatherstripping for doors and silicone caulk for windows at your local home improvement store, and then install it as directed.
#4 Clean Your Fireplace and Chimney
Another task for a professional, you should definitely hire a chimney sweep to inspect and clean your fireplace and chimney before the first time you use it after a long dormant period. This is to ensure that any flammable material is removed before your first fire and that your fireplace and chimney aren’t sending harmful carbon monoxide back into your home.
#5 Turn Fashion into Function
Your ceiling fans and curtains do more than just add character to the design aesthetic of your home. They can increase the overall energy efficiency of your home if used creatively.
- Point the direction of your ceiling fan’s flow so that it pulls air up into the ceiling and then pushes it back down into the corners of the room.
- Keep your curtains open during the day to let in ambient heat from the sun and close them at night to hold in that heat while you sleep.
Embrace Fall Energy Efficiency
Saving energy in the fall is great preparation for keeping your energy usage low in the winter. This is especially true when it comes to those thermostat settings, because if you can get your family used to those temperatures now – before it gets really cold – you won’t have to fight with people about the thermostat later. And when you start calculating the money you save with these tips, you could apply those funds toward holiday gifts for the entire family as a reward for being so energy efficient.