I don’t know what the weather is like in your neck of the woods but in ours it just became winter! Over the last few days we’ve had temperatures in the 30’s, frost warnings and trips to the attic to dig out winter coats and gloves!
Along with trying to stay warm outside of the house we have also been trying to stay warm inside by making the switch from AC to heat and using our fireplaces. Unfortunately with the weather still trying to figure out if it really is time for gloves, coats and heat, my thermostat is all over the place which gets me thinking about how to best use our energy. All the up and down can’t be too efficient!
According to the US Energy Information Administration, in 2009 US homes on average used 41.5% on space heating and 6.2% on air conditioning (or 47.7%) on keeping themselves comfortable…and safe. That’s a big chunk and worth exploring ways to conserve…so here we go with 4 easy energy saving tips for winter!
1.One way to conserve energy (and save money!) is to make sure your home is properly insulated. Many utility companies offer a free home energy audit which I think is well worth it and something we did. Keep in mind there are likely to be a variety of recommendations that will cost you…but will probably pay for themselves in energy savings in the long run. Think about looking into what options may be available in your area.
2.I didn’t realize how important it was to keep our furnace/AC filters clean until a few years ago when the furnace stopped blowing out warm air. Needless to say it was a little embarrassing to have to call a repair person to come out only to scold me on how dirty the filter was – and fix the problem that easily! Oops! Now it makes perfect sense that if the filter is dirty the system (heat or AC) has to work harder to maintain the temperature you set the thermostat to, so it’s running more often.
So now that you and I will be keeping our filters clean to save energy (and money!!) you can go one step further and reduce the waste you create with disposable filters and switch to a reusable version. I like these washable furnace filters and have 2 for each system so I’m always ready with a clean one when it’s time to take out the dirty one!
3.Another great way to efficiently regulate your indoor temperature is by having a plan for your thermostat. If you have a programmable thermostat, great! If not, manually adjusting it works – you just have to make sure you remember to do it! If you are like me you may have had a programmable thermostat for a while but haven’t gotten around to actually programming it! So, familiarize yourself with your thermostat. If you have to, dig out or go online to find the user’s manual for your model. We have this programmable thermostat which is really easy to use.
Here is a general guide for winter settings for a family with adults and children that are out of the house all day for work and school:
- 68°F about 30 minutes before family wakes up
- 56°F to 58°F at the time the family typically leaves the house
- 68°F about 30 minutes before the family starts arriving at home
- 56°F to 58°F once the whole family has gone to bed (and is bundled in warm pj’s and blankets!)
Try out these settings and see how they work for your family. You may have to play a little with the timing and the exact temperature but being aware of it is a good first step!
4.Here’s another trick to conserve energy… and your kids can help you do it! During winter, keep the drapes and shades on your south-facing windows open during the day to allow the sunlight to enter your home and provide some warmth. Which way is south? Get your kids to help you figure it out! Many smartphones either come with a compass or you can download a free app. Make it their task to make sure that the drapes on those windows are either open or closed each morning depending on what season you are in. Easy, right!!?
So there you have it – 4 easy steps to get you going on the right track to conserving energy and saving money this winter! Oh wait, I forgot the best one! Get the whole family together for some snuggling on the coach in front of a fire – fuzzy socks and cozy blankets required! Enjoy!