When cold winds blow and snow falls, staying warm becomes a priority. Surviving the winter in a cold climate usually involves winterizing a home and turning up the heat. While this is the typical situation during the colder months, it is possible to save energy in the winter. Saving energy has a multitude of benefits. You can save money because you will be using less heat. Using less energy also benefits the environment because you will be causing fewer emissions into the air as you heat your home. As you look for ways to save energy this winter, use only safe heating practices. Space heaters can project warmth, but they can also be dangerous. Keep space heaters away from flammable items such as curtains. And install a carbon monoxide detector in your home to detect potentially lethal levels of carbon monoxide that can exist with the use of a furnace, fireplace, or and space heater.

Repairing Doors and Windows

  • Install draperies over windows to prevent heat loss. Draperies made out of heavy fabrics can prevent heat loss by up to 10 percent. Always close draperies overnight. Keep draperies drawn during the day on windows that do not let in sunlight.
  • Install panels of foam insulation over windows that you do not wish to use during the winter. The panels fit into the window space over the glass, sealing the windows tightly. Secure the panels with magnetic tape to keep them in place.
  • Leaks around windows and doors can account for up to 25 percent of heat loss in a home. Place a tube of fabric stuffed with dry rice along the bottom of a door or window to stop leaks.
  • Tape clear plastic film around interior window frames to prevent leaks. Special window kits provide sheets of plastic and double-sided tape. Cut the plastic to fit, tape it around windows, and shrink the plastic with a blow dryer.
  • Check window and door sashes for leaks. Fix cracks by applying weatherstripping or caulk to these areas.


Regulating the Thermostat

  • Reduce the thermostat to the lowest temperature you find comfortable when the family is awake and at home. Encourage family members to add an extra layer, such as a sweater, so you can reduce the temperature by a degree or two.
  • Turn the thermostat down 10 or 15 degrees during times the family is away from home or sleeping.
  • Install a programmable thermostat to control adjustments to temperature settings consistently and automatically throughout the day.


Maintaining the Furnace

  • Before turning the furnace on for the first time in the autumn, have it inspected by a professional. The inspector will service the furnace to ensure that it operates safely and efficiently.
  • Maintain the furnace effectively to ensure that it operates correctly. For efficient operation, check the furnace filter every month. If the filter appears dirty, replace it.
  • Check the duct system to ensure efficiency. If leaks or holes are present, you could lose as much as 30 percent of your heat. A professional can assist with duct sealing to repair leaks or holes.


Fireplace Maintenance

  • Seal the fireplace flue for unused fireplaces.
  • Keep the damper of the fireplace closed at all times unless you have a fire in the fireplace. Heat will escape through an open damper.
  • Caulk cracks around the hearth to make it airtight.
  • Install special fireplace grates with tubes made out of C-shaped metal. These tubes are effective for circulating warm air in a room.


Water Heater Adjustments

  • Add insulation around the water heater. Insulation can help avoid heat loss by as much as 45 percent.
  • Turn the water heater temperature down to 120 degrees Fahrenheit to save energy.


Controlling Holiday Lighting Expenses

  • Decorate the inside and outside of your home with LED lights. LED light strings use less energy than incandescent lighting.
  • Decorate in other ways that do not involve electricity. Use natural garlands of evergreen or berries, for example.
  • Use a timer for holiday lights so the lights go off overnight.


Resources

Article written by Lexi Westingate
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