As the season changes from summer to fall, it’s time to think about taking simple steps around the house to save energy. Some of these ideas can be used on a daily basis to increase your savings; others are simple and inexpensive actions you can take to ensure maximum savings through the fall and winter.
Take Advantage of the Sun
Open curtains on your south-facing windows during the day to allow sunlight to naturally heat your home, and close them at night to reduce the chill you may feel from cold windows.
Cover Drafty Windows
Install tight fitting, insulating drapes or shades on windows that feel drafty after weatherizing. Find out about other window treatments and coverings that can improve energy efficiency.
Adjust the Temperature
When you are home and awake, set your thermostat as low as is comfortable. When you are asleep or out of the house, turn your thermostat back 10° to 15° for eight hours. You will save around 10 percent a year on your heating and cooling bills. A programmable thermostat makes it easy to control your temperature.
Find and Seal Leaks
Seal the air leaks around utility cut-throughs for pipes, gaps around chimneys and recessed lights in insulated ceilings, and unfinished spaces behind cupboards and closets. Add caulk or weather-stripping to seal air leaks around leaky doors and windows.
Maintain Your Heating Systems
Be sure to schedule service for your heating system. Replace your furnace filter once a month or as needed.
Lower Your Water Heating Costs
Water heating can account for 14 percent to 25 percent of the energy consumed in your home. Turn down the temperature of your water heater to the warm setting (120°F). You’ll not only save energy, you’ll avoid scalding your hands.
Reduce Heat Loss From the Fireplace
Be sure to keep your fireplace damper closed unless a fire is burning. Keeping the damper open is like keeping a window wide open during the winter; it allows warm air to go right up the chimney.
When you use the fireplace, reduce heat loss by opening dampers in the bottom of the firebox (if provided) or open the nearest window slightly—approximately one inch—and close doors leading into the room. Lower the thermostat setting to between 50° and 55°F.
If you never use your fireplace, plug and seal the chimney flue. If you do use the fireplace, install tempered glass doors and a heat-air exchange system that blows warmed air back into the room. Check the seal on the fireplace flue damper and make it as snug as possible. Purchase grates made of C-shaped metal tubes to draw cool room air into the fireplace and circulate warm air back into the room. Add caulking around the fireplace hearth.