The winter months are coming, and that means it’s time to winterize your home! Proper preparation can help you save money, as well as contribute to a greener world. So what are you waiting for? Here are 5 ways to save green while being green during the winter months.
1. Focus on Furnace Filters
When you’re looking to save money during the winter months, one of the easiest things to forget to do is to change your furnace filters. Dirty, clogged up filters can restrict airflow to your house, creating inefficiencies that lead to higher costs of energy. Those looking to save the most and keep their air flowing unrestricted should look at replacing or cleaning filters about once per month during the winter. Of course, there’s always the permanent filter option, which will save time in cleaning and in replacements. Permanent filters help to remove a majority of airborne particles from your home and can also help to control bacteria, viruses, mold, and pollen.
2. Tape Those Ducts
Speaking of heating and air, another great cost-saving tip to help you winterize your home is to make sure you’re sealing your ducts! The ducts are like the viens are arteries that deliver heating and cooling throughout the house, and sometimes they have leaks that allows air to escape. Some studies have even shown that 10 to 30 percent of heating/cooling escapes those ducts on average. While duct tape sounds like a great option, what you’ll actually want to do is hire a technician to come check out your ducts and let you know if you need them sealed–if you do, you could end up saving approximately $140 a year.
3. Turn Down the Heat
After you’ve made sure your heating system is running as efficiently as possible, turn it off and leave it off for the whole winter. Ha! Just kidding! But do make sure that you keep your heat low when you’re not in the house–because most households end up spending about 50 to 70 percent of their energy budget on heating and cooling. It’s also said that for every degree you lower the thermostat, you can save between one and three percent on your heating bill. For those who really want to invest long term in saving money and going green, check out a smart thermostat which will automatically raise and lower the heat for you.
4. Plug Drafts & Insulate
No set of winterization tips would be complete without a reminder to look for and plug any drafts in your house. Drafts can wasted between 5 and 30 percent of your heat energy generated, depending on how big it is–and 30 percent is a lot. Commonly, you’ll find drafts under doors. This is easily fixed with a DIY draft snake, AKA a rolled up bath towel. Some folks will set out to buy one of those “as seen on TV” draft snakes, but really shouldn’t spend the money unless they’re really into the aesthetic.
After you’ve made sure that you’re not letting cool air invade your home through the nooks and crannies, make sure that the warm air you’re creating isn’t escaping your humble abode! Window insulation kits can be pretty cheap, and are essentially just large sheets of invisible plastic that provide a barrier to fleeing heat. Other ways to treat windows include caulking and weatherstripping. Beyond that, adding insulation between walls is a huge way to save money on energy. The biggest places you’ll want to focus on are going to be the attic floor and basement ceiling–and remember: the government may even reimburse you through government energy programs.
5. Insulate Pipes and Drain Unnecessary Water
One thing that people often forget to insulate is their water pipes. You can make sure that you’re paying less for hot water as well as protect against freezing with a move like this. Here’s a quick tip: touch your pipes and see if they’re warm–if they are, you probably want to insulate them. While we’re on the topic of pipes, also make sure to drain them of any excess water that might be residing in them–this includes anything leading to or dealing with an inground pool. Turn off exterior spigots, and if your air conditioning unit has a water shutoff valve make sure to use it!
Some Last Pieces of Advice…
Fall is a great time to get out and do some exterior home improvement work before Grandfather Winter is nipping at more than your heels! Roof repair and power washing are both great ideas before you have snow falling and before you have to drain those hoses. One final piece of poignant piece of advice from the McCann team: remember to check the foundation of your house for any entry points that any small animals might use to seek refuge from the elements. Rodent infestations in the winter are no fun for anybody!