For most households, the greatest energy costs occur during the winter. This year, in many areas, fuel costs are soaring. Now more than ever, the time is right for homeowners to take steps to prepare for winter – to conserve energy and save money.
1. Winterize windows. Sealing up leaky windows with insulating plastic (the kind available in kits at hardware stores) can cut heat loss through the windows by more than 50 percent, according to some sources. With kits available for about $10 each, this is a good one-season option. When choosing window coverings, opt for insulating draperies or blinds with “cells” to hold heat in. For a longer-term solution, install insulated replacement windows.
2. Seal gaps. Caulk the outside of leaky windows (or even on the inside; remove caulk in spring to open windows). Use plastic or expanding insulating foam to fill bigger gaps around windows, pipes and ducts.
3. Check Your Doors. Just like windows, your doors can let in cold air if there are leaks. Check for weather-stripping on the side and bottoms and replace it if you feel cold air slipping through.
4. Install a programmable thermostat. If you have not done so already, install a programmable thermostat that lowers the heat at night or while the house is empty. Installation is a quick do-it-yourself job, and it can save you substantially over the course of winter.
5. Replace Furnace Filter. A dirty furnace filter restricts airflow, making your fan motor work harder and your energy bill rise rapidly. Dirty furnace filters also reduce the air quality in your home, aggravating allergies and asthma for your family. Choose a furnace filter that provides a balance of particle capture and airflow to prevent stress on the system. This will reduce the amount of energy needed to reach desired temperatures during the winter.
6. Reset Your Ceiling Fan. Set your ceiling fan to spin on the low setting in reverse (clockwise). This will re-circulate warmer air that may be trapped near the ceiling down to floor level.