Tuesday Tip: 8 Ways to Have a Warm Home and Save Energy this Winter
Climate change can bring colder winters. It’s counterintuitive but it’s true, according to a recent study in the journal Nature Communications.
So now you have two compelling reasons to outfit your home or apartment for the chilly months ahead. One, to keep yourself warm. Two, to cut your energy use and do your part to slow down climate change.
Here are eight do-it-yourself ways to prep your place for a cold winter and reduce your power consumption.
The cracks around your windows and doors leak heat and let in cold air. Weatherstripping them will keep you comfortable and could save you up to 20% on your electricity bill.
But make sure you use the right type of weatherstripping. There are different varieties and they’re made to go in different places. For details on how to install them, search YouTube for instructional videos—there are dozens. Here are the basics.
This is a V-shaped weatherstrip that expands to fill gaps. Made of plastic or thin, flexible metal, V-strip is intended to go along the sides of a double-hung window or sliding window and along the sides or at the top of doors. With plastic V-strip, just cut the length you want, peel and stick. Make sure to clean the frames for best adhesion. Metal V-strip is affixed with finishing nails.
Sold in rolls, felt is inexpensive but doesn’t usually last more than a year or two. It goes in the same places as V-strip. Just cut, peel and stick. One advantage is that it slows down air but lets moisture pass.
Also sold in rolls, this is usually EPDM rubber. It works the same as felt but lasts longer.
Made of plastic or rubber, door sweeps fit the bottom of exterior doors to fill that gap down there and stop air flow in and out. They attach with screws.
Seal your ducts
If you have a home with central heating, you can save a lot of warm air and money by sealing and insulating your ducts—the network of tubes in your walls, floors, and ceilings that carries heat from your furnace to your rooms. Leaky ducts can lose up to 30% of their hot air and add hundreds of dollars to your yearly heating bill.
Given their location, it’s difficult to seal the ducts in your walls and floors so you may want to call in a professional to do that.
Service your furnace
To run more efficiently (and live a longer life), newer furnaces need service every two years and older furnaces need it annually. At a minimum, you should change your filters monthly during the winter. Hold your filter up to the light. If you can’t see light through it, you should replace it. Pleated filters are best because they catch more dirt and dust.
Insulate your water heater
Wrapping your water heater in an insulating blanket is an easy and effective DIY project. The blanket costs only about $20 at your local home center. If your tank is new, it’s probably insulated already. If it’s older, check the R-value of its insulation. It should be at least 24. If you can’t find the R-value, touch your tank. If it feels warm, it could use more insulation. This can cut standby heat loss by 25% to 45%.
While you’re at it, turn down your water heater’s thermostat from 140 degrees (the standard factory setting) to 120 degrees. This will save energy and your water will still be hot enough for showering and washing clothes or dishes.
Make your windows work for you
During the day, open the curtains or blinds on all windows that receive sunlight and you’ll gather free heat for your home. At night, close the curtains and you’ll keep heat in. Close them during cold weather and most conventional curtains will reduce heat loss by up to 10%.
Turn down your thermostat
Yes, normally in winter you turn it up. But turn it down when you go to bed. You’ll cut 1% from your heating bill for each degree you set back your thermostat. Set it back for eight hours every night and you can reduce your bill up to 10% per year.
Cover bare floors
Bare floors can drain as much as 10% of the heat out of your home. Cover them with rugs or carpeting to keep your home and your feet warm.
Foil your radiator
If you have a radiator against a wall, cover the wall in foil. This will keep heat from escaping and reflect it back into the room. You can buy foil made for this purpose or you can use plain-old aluminum foil. If you have large furniture next to the radiator, it will absorb heat, so move it away (unless you happen to be sitting in it).
We’ve got one planet. We need to take care of it. To help you do that, we launched CREDO Energy, an easy way for you to choose 100% renewable electricity for your home. Click here to learn more and check availability in your area.
Excellent tips, though I have trouble with the “insulate your water heater” suggestion. I’ve heard this recommendation for many years, and the advice is always, “insulate if you have an older water heater.” How old is “older”? 1970? 2013? Water heaters don’t last forever, and I can’t help but wonder if all those old, uninsulated heaters are already out of service. It would be helpful to get a specific date instead of the vague “older.”
Thanks for this list. Will use it for educational outreach projects and within our climate justice group.
Thanks for the useful tips !
I like all of the tips that you posted & most w, but sometimes we really get erratic weather as longill work where I live -central Texas. Since the saying about the weather here is “Wait 5 minutes & the weather will change .”
Weather strippibg for windows will usually work if the weather stays cold.