Preparing your house for the holidays? It’s also the perfect time to prepare for colder weather. You can prepare now and conserve from now on. A few simple things can help you lower your energy bills, and also help you do your part to reduce emissions. We have more good news, too, most of these little changes cost little more than a few minutes of your time!
Assess Energy Use Room by Room
As you walk through your house, be mindful when you feel a draft near windows or doors. Sealing air leaks in these areas, and adding insulation under floor joists or in attic space can not only help you save up to 20% on heating and cooling costs, but it can also drastically increase your comfort at home.
Maybe something that extensive is beyond what you can do right now. If it is, why not roll up a quilt or blanket and use that to stop airflow in the draftiest areas of your home? You can also open your window coverings during the day (particularly on sunny days) to let in the warmth of the sun. Then, at night, remember to close them to prevent heat loss through your window glass. Every little thing helps.
Your kitchen and laundry areas are two places where potential for savings also abound. When using your dishwasher, washing machine, and even dryer, operate them with full loads whenever possible. You can also change the set point on your water heater to 120 degrees (if your dishwasher has a preheat water function). Each 10-degree reduction in your water heater temperature can save you 3-5% in energy costs. Also remember, to prevent possible scalding, the set point on your water heater should never exceed 140 degrees.
One way to use less energy in your kitchen and bathrooms during the winter is to only use ventilating fans when you are venting moisture or fumes. When the fan is no longer needed, be sure it is not running – otherwise, you are continuously venting heat (and your money) straight out of your home.
If you have central heating and cooling, you can also reduce energy use by making some small changes. An adjustment to your thermostat can reduce energy use by 3% for each degree of reduction when you are heating your home (conversely, when you are cooling your home, you can reduce energy use by increasing your thermostat). You could also follow this same practice at night and when you’re out of your home for an extended amount of time.
When it’s time to replace your central heating and cooling unit, switching to a higher-efficiency unit will help you reduce energy use. Until then, remember to make sure your unit’s filter is clean and change it regularly. Don’t forget to also make an annual (or more frequent) inspection of all vents on your home to ensure no blockages (bird nests, debris, etc.) are keeping air from properly flowing.
Remember, Southeast Gas service personnel are always available to provide assistance if you have questions about energy efficiency, appliance operation, or new appliance options to keep you comfortable and safe in your home. Looking for more ways to use less energy? Check out the Department of Energy’s Energy Saver page for more guidance. Prepare now and conserve from now on!