Don’t let the winter chill crimp your finances. Just a few simple steps can close the gap between you and lower electric bills.
- Replace the furnace filter: A dirty furnace filter can block airflow, especially during cold months when heating systems work overtime. Regularly change the filter, and set your calendar to remind you. Or, invest in a permanent filter and never worry again.
- Reverse your fans: Ceiling fans are for more than cooling. Running a fan counterclockwise produces cool breezes, but running it clockwise warms rooms by pulling cool air toward the ceiling. This one change can cut heating expense by 10%.
- Block the draft: Many snakes are good, especially those you can use to block drafts, which can increase your energy costs as much as 30%, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Make a simple draft snake by rolling a towel and placing it under a drafty door.
- Cover your windows: When properly installed, plastic window insulation is practically invisible, and it can add a buffer against drafts that will keep more heat inside. Affordable insulation kits are available at most hardware stores.
- Check weatherstripping: Check spots in your home where two types of building materials meet. Plug any holes with caulking and weatherstripping. Common culprits include corners, the area around chimneys, spots where pipes or wires exit the wall and along the foundation.
- Add insulation: Upgrading or adding insulation between walls is one way to improve the energy efficiency of your home. Double-check your attic floor and basement ceiling to make sure they’re well-insulated.
- Cover the water heater: Is your water heater in a garage or unfinished basement? That means it may be surrounded by cold air. Consider covering your tank with a water heater blanket to reduce heat loss by 25% or more.
- Seal switches and outlets: Did you know that as much as 5% of air seeping into your homes comes through electrical outlets and switches on outside walls? Properly sealing those outlets helps prevent unwanted drafts.
- Insulate pipes: Insulating pipes can be a good way to reduce your hot water costs and to decrease the likelihood of the pipes freezing. Most hardware stores carry pipe foam rated by R-value, a measure of its heat-blocking power. Insulation with an R-3 rating works for most pipes.