Your home’s heating and cooling system—otherwise known as your HVAC—is responsible for most of your home’s energy usage, accounting for almost half of your total energy costs. During the winter months, when indoor heating is a matter of survival in many places, your utility costs can rise dramatically. 

Fortunately, there are some easy ways to reduce your energy usage in the winter and save your wallet from your utility bills—while still staying cozy. Here are 13 tips to improve your home’s energy efficiency.

1. Learn to layer up

You’ve heard it your whole life, “put on a jacket”, and that’s because it’s easier and more cost-efficient to warm your body than to heat up the whole house. So when you start to keep the thermostat low during the day, you can still be comfortable by using a sweatshirt and maybe your coziest socks around your home. Still want to save money at night? Stay toasty under a few thick blankets.  

If you’re concerned about keeping your pets warm, consider buying a cozy pad or mat for them to lie on. You can buy doggie sweaters for your pooch, but they’re not recommended for your feline friend. Cats hate clothing, but no worries, they have a natural ability to find the warmest spot in the house.

2. Change the direction of the ceiling fan

Turning a fan on in the winter may seem counterintuitive, but fans can help regulate the interior climate. The ceiling fan should rotate in a clockwise direction, on the lowest speed setting. This will pull the cool air up, and in turn, move the warmer air that tends to collect near the ceiling down to naturally warm the area. The low fan speed also prevents drafts and keeps the airflow consistent. 

3. Get an energy audit

If you are a new homeowner, you may have never heard of an energy audit but this is an effective way to find any drafts and identify insulation problems. The audit uses different tests and an infrared camera to pinpoint air leaks and areas where your home’s energy efficiency can improve. You can typically schedule the audit through your utility company; they may even offer discounts or rebates.

4. Avoid leaving appliances on standby

Once you plug a device in, it’s easy to just set it and forget it. But when your electronics and devices are constantly on standby mode, they’re using up a fair amount of energy—and hiking up your energy bill in the process. 

That’s why it’s a good idea to go through your home room by room and check which items are plugged in. Work on unplugging devices like coffee machines, toasters and electric toothbrush chargers. For items like lamps, bedside phone chargers and computers, use a power strip that you can easily switch on and off when you leave your home. 

5. Switch to energy-saving LED bulbs

Switching out your light bulbs for energy-saving LED bulbs may be an investment, but it can save you money long term.  Not only do LED bulbs use much less electricity than other bulbs, but they also last longer. Many LED lightbulbs have a rated life of up to 50,000 hours, which means if you use them 12 hours a day they’ll last more than 11 years. 

Pro tip: Get into the habit of turning off lights when you're not using them, and remind the members of your household to do the same. You’ll save money on utilities and won’t have to buy new lightbulbs as often, putting even more money back in your pocket.

6. Lower the temperature in your home

Adjusting the temperature setting on your home’s thermostat by just a couple of degrees can impact the bottom line of your heating bill, allowing you to save at a time when it would usually be rising. The U.S. Department of Energy has even reported that a home can conserve up to 10% of its energy usage by adapting to its thermostat being 10 to 15 degrees cooler for eight hours a day. While eight hours sounds like a long time, try this out when no one is home or at night when you are able to keep doors closed and members of your household can stay toasty warm under thick blankets.

7. Get a smart thermostat

Want to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to your home’s temperature? Consider purchasing a smart thermostat. These devices are quickly becoming a game-changer when it comes to being able to have a positive, direct effect on your home’s energy ills as well as it’s energy usage.

Do your research on the different brands and models because depending on the needs of your home, you can customize your experience. Some smart thermostats learn your habits and preferences, others require you to set a schedule that automatically adjusts to the most energy-efficient temperature setting for your home at any given time. There are even some states, local city governments or energy providers that reward homeowners for installing smart thermostats, so be sure to run a search on perks available in your area that may help you save on a new device.

8. Let the sun in during the day

Take advantage of free heat. Use the sun in your favor and open your curtains and blinds during the daytime so you can take advantage of the sun’s natural ability to heat your home. Letting in the sunlight during the day can translate to more heat which can help you keep the heater off, and your bills from going up.

9. Close the curtains at night

Just as windows can let in the sunlight, they can also be a source of heat loss. Depending on their age or condition, and because they don’t benefit from the insulation that your walls do, they may let a draft in. 

As the sun goes down, close your window coverings to prevent cold chills from dropping your home’s temperature, forcing you to adjust the thermostat. If you still find that your windows are allowing too much cold into your home, you may want to think about installing insulated or quilted curtains to maximize the energy efficiency of your windows.

10. Close up unused rooms

Have a guest room you don’t use unless guests are in town? An extra office space? Is someone out of town for the weekend? Whatever the reason, if you have a room in your house that people aren’t readily using, close it up so you don’t waste valuable energy heating it in the wintertime. 

Pro tip: In addition to closing all of the doors or windows, make sure you close the vents in the room, too. This will ensure no heat enters uninhabited spaces.

11. Reset your water heater thermostat

After your home’s HVAC systems, your home’s water heater is the second-highest source of energy usage and utility costs. This is because it takes a lot of energy to heat your home’s water and 41% of homes have their water heating settings far too high according to NPR.

This is because once your home’s water heater is set at a specific temperature, the heater maintains that temperature all day, every day. Your water heater continually cycles on and off, reheating water to that temperature whether you are actively using it or not. So when you lower the temperature on your water heater a few degrees, you can save significantly on your heating bills. This is a great tip because even if you are a fan of super hot showers, you likely won’t even notice a difference. 

12. Use space heaters

When heating a small area, try using a space heater. Electric space heaters are an energy-efficient way to stay warm because the direction of the heat is absolutely concentrated and controllable. There’s no residual heat loss through ducts or affected by drafty areas of the entire house. Space heaters are especially preferred for heating closed-off areas—like your office or bathroom—that you occupy for short periods of time. 

However, keep in mind that space heaters will never be more efficient than your furnace when you are trying to heat your entire home. True to their name, space heaters are perfect for small spaces, but they shouldn't be your home’s sole source of heat in the winter months.

13. Eliminate air leaks and drafts

Repairing or replacing seals in your home is a simple, effective and relatively inexpensive way to ensure you won’t be paying more for your energy usage during the winter months. Being proactive and caulking and/or weatherstripping the areas that are drafty or breezy can end up paying for themselves in energy savings within a year. When inspecting, look for cracks and openings around door and window frames that may need just a bead of caulk to stop that chilly air from coming in the house. When looking to weatherstrip, inspect around anything that you can move, like windows or the doors around the exterior of your home. Here are some areas to check:

External doors

Once you have determined you have a drafty door, the weatherstripping or seal around the door is your most likely culprit. Once you have decided to repair and have the needs supplies, remove any damaged weather stripping and once that is all cleaned up, you can begin to reseal these areas with your chosen form of sealant. Not sure which one is the right one for your home? Check out this quick guide on weatherstripping from Lowe’s to give you a head start.

Windows

Windows, due to their lack of insulation can be a huge source of drafts and heat loss. If you think your home would benefit, you could take the extra step of insulating your windows before the winter by using a clear plastic cling wrap to seal the frame. This isn’t the run-of-the-mill cling wrap you would use for your holiday leftovers. But window film is easy to find at any home improvement store and won’t cost much more than what you would spend on the typical version of cling wrap. This small investment for the windows in your home could lead to big savings on your heating bill.

Attic and basement

Inspect your attic, basement or even crawl spaces thoroughly when searching for air leaks, as these floors that are likely less used on a daily basis tend to hide the worst leaks. For small leaks, you can use a quick dab of foam or caulk but for larger leaky areas, you may need to install or replace insulation. Not completely comfortable handing insulation, or need some direction? Hippo customers can call our Hippo Home Care experts and get professional advice. If you aren’t yet a Hippo customer, you can always find a reputable professional in your area to help.

Unexpected heat leaks

While doors and windows are more obvious sources of drafts, winter air can leak into your home from some pretty unexpected areas. When sussing out a draft investigate outlets, utility cupboards, light fixtures, AC units and any gaps in your insulation. Put these spots on your list to inspect as you’re doing your pre-winter home maintenance.

Fireplace damper

Lighting your fireplace is a great way to warm up in winter, so many homeowners don’t expect it to be a source of heat loss but they may be what’s letting in cold air in when it’s not in use. This is an easy fix. Make it a habit to close your damper whenever you’re not actively using your fireplace. If you never use your fireplace, play it extra safe by plugging and sealing the chimney flue.

Saving energy all year long

Saving energy in the wintertime is a smart idea, but for year-round savings, energy efficiency can’t just a wintertime goal. Many of these tips can help you save money—and use less energy—all year long. 

Each of these tasks won’t take up too much of your valuable weekend or upcoming holiday time and even if a project takes longer than expected, at least you’ll be protecting your home from future losses. You can also implement a budgeting system to save even more money for future projects or for more presents this coming holiday season! 

Hippo doesn’t just provide insurance policies, we work to help you care for your home so you can enjoy every moment as a homeowner. Not yet a member of the Hippo family? Get a quote in 60 seconds.



 

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