7 Energy Efficiency Tips For Your Home This Winter
Winter is here whether we like it or not, and there are easy steps you can take to mitigate high heating bills and cold drafts within your home. With small changes to your home and routine, you can optimize the efficiency in your home to maximize your savings this winter (and winters to come) while still staying warm and cozy. These changes range from totally free to relatively inexpensive and the best part is that you can start right away. Below are 7 tips I recommend to increase energy efficiency in your home this winter.
1. Use your thermostat wisely
By keeping your thermostat at a lower temperature setting when you are out of the house for a decent amount of time or at night while sleeping, you can see big savings in your energy bill. Smart home thermostats are the way of the future and can be quite helpful in this endeavour as you can change the temperature of your home with the touch of a finger on your smartphone from anywhere in the world. A great smart home thermostat that I can recommend is an "ecobee" thermostat, but there are many options available on the market. The more you reduce your heat setting the more you will save (within reason - don't turn the heat off completely!). You can ensure you are nice and cozy at night by sleeping with heavier bedding & warm pyjamas. You can ensure you are nice and cozy during the day by keeping throw blankets on the couch and dressing warmly (hello sweaters, trackpants and warm socks!). Another great thing to remember to do is to leave your oven open after finishing baking or cooking to let the residual heat flow into your home.
2. Give your home an energy audit
Make sure that you and your family are on the same (energy efficiency) page. As the sun sets earlier in the winter, our lights come on earlier and this effects our hydro usage. Making sure that you and your family are mindful of turning lights off in the rooms you are not using can make a difference. Depending on how your hydro provider's rates are set up, you may also be able to save money by doing laundry during your providers "off-peak" time, taking advantage of the lower energy rate. While we are on the topic of laundry, remember that washing your clothes in cold water and air drying your clothing on a drying rack will also help with your hydro bill.
3. Protect your windows
Depending on the age of your windows, you may experience cold drafts coming in from your windows in the winter season. If you do not have plans to replace your old windows anytime soon with higher efficiency windows, installing heavy drapes to cover your larger windows may be a good option for you. Heavy drapes may not entirely keep the cold out, but they do raise the insulation level of windows, trapping cold air between the window and the curtain, preventing it from entering the room. These can also be dual purpose, helping to shade your home from the hot sun to keep your home cool in the summer months. In the winter, sun is your friend and a natural heater. Keep your drapes and blinds open to direct sun during the day for some free heating. Other inexpensive options to protect your windows include weather stripping, re-caulking old spots along the windows and installing insulating window film.
4. Check around your home to ensure your air vents are not blocked and are clean
Having furniture blocking your air vents is helpful to no one as it is decreasing the efficiency of your heating. Do a quick check around your home to ensure all of your vents are free and clear of furniture and decor. Cleaning your air vents will also save you money on both heating and air conditioning and improve the overall air quality of your home. You can hire a professional to do this or do it yourself. If you choose to do it yourself, I recommend unscrewing all of your vent covers and washing them with soap and water and allowing them to dry fully before re-installing. Next you can vacuum the ducts as much as possible (a powerful shop vac with a long hose would be best for this).
5. Check in on your HVAC system
One of the major energy-consuming appliances in a house is its furnace. One of the best ways to ensure that your furnace stays as energy efficient as possible is to schedule routine maintenance for it from a professional. This will also ensure that you avoid as many repairs as possible by addressing any concerns early on before they lead to major repairs, and in turn, expensive repair costs. Changing your furnace filters frequently is something you can do yourself that reduces the workload on your furnace AND ensures your air quality is top notch.
6. Seek out & eliminate leaks
Sometimes there are air leaks around pipes, vents, doors, the attic, the garage and more. The first step is take a thorough look around your home and identify any air leaks. The next step is to identity the proper solution depending on the type of leak; you may consider caulking or insulation for a small leak, or weather stripping and door sweeps around a door. Many minor leaks can be easily and inexpensively solved, but same may potentially require a professionals help which could be more expensive upfront, but save you money in the long run in the way of a lowered energy bill. For the most thorough and accurate measurement of air leakage in your home, you can hire a qualified technician to conduct an energy audit.
7. Utilize your ceiling fans
Don't forget about your ceiling fans in the winter! Warm air rises, so setting your ceiling fan to run in reverse can help to bring the warm air back down. Due to the improved distribution of heat in the room, your thermostat can be turned down. Keep in mind that unlike your heater or air conditioner, you shouldn’t turn ceiling fans on and let them run continuously when you’re not in the room or the home. To benefit from running the ceiling fan, you need to be in the room to take advantage of the enhanced heating as the fans will not do much to distribute heat throughout your home. To ensure optimal savings and comfort whether in the winter or summer, it’s important to choose an energy-efficient fan when shopping for new fans in your home. ENERGY STAR-rated ceiling fans use optimized motors & innovative blade designs to lower the fans’ energy consumption by as much as 60% over standard fans.
Implementing these changes will really add up in your homes efficiency and your heating bill savings. If you have any other tips you'd like to share, I'd love to hear them! I hope that you have a great winter and please do not hesitate to reach out with any real estate or home related questions you may have.
The Condo Confidential