Instead of going into hibernation this winter use it as an opportunity to make energy efficiency improvements around the house. You’ll feel more comfortable, save money on electricity and feel good knowing that you’re helping combat climate change.
Get started this weekend with one or two of the suggestions below.
Consider a New Electricity Plan
During the winter we spend more time inside, run the heater constantly and turn on the lights much earlier in the day. The experts at Direct Energy say this is a good time to research available electricity plans if you live in a deregulated market. Each provider sets their own rate per kilowatt-hour, which means you could save money simply by switching plans.
Update the Lighting
As mentioned above, in the winter the sun goes down earlier, which means your lighting bill goes up. Now is the perfect time to start updating your lighting. The easiest improvement is to replace standard incandescent bulbs with super efficient compact fluorescent bulbs or LED lights. They are up to 80% more efficient! Focus first on the lights that are used the most and then expand from there.
If you want to get serious about reducing the electricity needed for lighting consider installing motion sensor lights and dimmers. These ensure lights are only used when they’re needed and give you more control.
Give Your Water Heater a Little TLC
When it’s cold out your water heater is working even harder. This can increase energy use and strain your system. But a few quick fixes can solve the problem.
- Make sure the temperature is set for maximum efficiency – it should be at 120-130 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Drain the water from the water heater if it hasn’t been done in the last three months. This helps to remove any sediment that has built up.
- Insulate around the water heater. Both the tank and the pipes in and out of the water heater can be insulated to increase efficiency.
Inspect and Correct Roof Problems
Your roof can take a beating during the winter when the weather is harsh. It can also let a lot of warm air out if it’s not properly insulated. It’s important to check the roof both inside and out for these common problems:
- Condensation – When it’s cold outside and warm inside condensation can form if the attic doesn’t have proper insulation. To avoid mold and mildew add insulation to the interior of the roof and throughout the attic.
- Damaged Flashing – Metal flashing is used along joints, the edge of the roofline and anywhere there is a break in the roofing (i.e. around chimneys, vents, etc.). If the flashing is damaged it can cause leaks. Small holes and spots of corrosion can be plugged, however if the damage is extensive the flashing will need to be replaced.
- Ice Dams – This is a serious problem that can cause structural damage if it goes undetected or isn’t fixed. Ice dams are spots along the eaves where ice accumulates. It happens because the heat inside the home melts snow on the roof, but it then collects at the edge of the roof where there’s no internal heat radiating out. To prevent damage the ice will need to be carefully scraped off.
If there are missing shingles or extensive damage you may have to install a new roof. It’s an expensive fix but worth the investment.
Add Rugs Around the House
If you have wood or tile floors increasing the comfort and energy efficiency of your home is as easy as adding a few rugs. This one change can lower your energy bills by up to 6%.
Seal Up Around Doors
Is the weather stripping worn? Is there a gap at the threshold? A lot of cold air could be coming in around the doors if they aren’t properly sealed. If weather stripping is a few years old or non-existent add more along the edge. You may also need to caulk around the door if there are air leaks around the doorframe. If the threshold doesn’t sit flush at the bottom of the door add a door sweep to solve the problem.
The great news is all these fixes will protect your home during the harsh winter and improve energy efficiency into the summer.