No-Cost and Low-Cost Ways to Cut Home Energy Costs in Winter
Your resources might not allow for new storm windows, an upgraded furnace, solar power or the latest Energy Star rated appliances.
But you can still save on your home energy costs by being resourceful.
Heating alone averages 30% of a home energy bill. Appliances, lighting, electronics and other electrical take another 40%. To reduce the fuel consumption of your home, start with the little things you can do around the house every day to save energy. Over time you can fill in the gaps to make your home more airtight and energy efficient.
Make the Most of Existing Heat
Let the sun shine in on any south facing windows so your home can absorb the heat. At night, keep the heat from escaping by covering windows with shades. A variety of high R-value insulative window coverings are an option, available through different manufacturers.
Even without high performance windows, you can make your old windows more airtight by adding caulking around the gaps in the framing.
Add caulking around the foundation, ductwork and gaps in construction of your home to keep out cold air.
Change the furnace filter regularly in winter to optimize your heat circulation.
Heat in a home rises up and out of the ceiling. Capture and recirculate rising heat by turning on the ceiling fan in reverse mode to force the warm air down. Add insulation to the attic and also to the foundation walls.
It’s highly recommended to install a programmable thermostat to save on home energy costs. You can preprogram your heater to turn down automatically when you need it less, and to turn back up when you need it more.
Wear more layers to stay warm in winter. Wool blends and other natural fabrics keep you warmer indoors than synthetics.
Control the Lights
Lighting takes an average of 12% of home energy costs. Turn off lights when you aren’t using them, even when it’s darker outside in winter. Adding dimmer switches is a low cost way to use less lighting, while creating ambience in your home.
Consider using LED (light emitting diode) light bulbs wherever possible. LED bulbs are exceedingly durable and last over 10 Xs longer than CFL bulbs. LEDs are also easy to dispose—unlike CFLs, which require hazardous waste disposal, due to toxic mercury content. While the upfront cost of LED bulbs is significantly more than CFL and incandescent bulbs, their prices continue to come down.
Use Less “Juice”
Appliances continue to draw energy when they are plugged in—even when the switch is turned to off. Unplug the coffee pot, the toaster and other appliances when not in use. Home energy costs for appliances make up about 13% of a typical bill.
Use shorter cycles on the washer, dryer and dishwasher. Make space in your laundry area to hang clothing.
Unplug your entertainment center when you aren’t using it and place your computer on “sleep” or standby mode when you’re away. Electronics, adapters and other electrical power items take up 15% and more of home energy costs.
Cook with Compact Methods
A full size oven uses twice the voltage of a smaller countertop appliance oven. Small ovens can bake, broil, cook or warm up food just like larger ovens. Use a pressure cooker to make big pots of soups or stews in a fraction of the time it takes with a stove. Experiment with using less water for cooking vegetables and keep lids on pans to maximize heat.
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Save on Home Energy Costs Even on a Low Budget
Even without the most up-to-date energy efficient upgrades, you can take steps to save on fuel. Start with the no-cost things you can do every day to reduce energy consumption. Work with your home to take advantage of existing heat and wherever possible fill in the gaps to stop air leaks. You might find in the process you don’t even need to upgrade your furnace.
• Even if you can’t afford high performance upgrades, you can still save on your home energy costs by being resourceful.
• Heating averages 30% of a home energy bill.
• Appliances, lighting, electronics and other electrical average around 40% of home energy costs.
• Let the sun shine in on any south facing windows so your home can absorb the heat.
• Make old windows more airtight by adding caulking around the gaps in the framing.
• Wearing wool blends and other natural fabrics are warmer than synthetics to stay warm around the house.
• Install a programmable thermostat to save substantially on home energy costs.
• Adding dimmer switches is a low cost way to use less lighting, while creating ambience in your home.
• Unplug appliances when not in use—since appliances continue to draw energy when they are plugged in.
• Place your computer on “sleep” or standby mode when you’re away.
• A small countertop oven uses half the voltage of a large conventional oven.
• Work with your home to take advantage of existing heat and wherever possible fill in the gaps to stop air leaks.