Written by Caroline Haywood, Four Green Steps
Monday, 03 December 2012 15:15
Top Tips to Save Energy this Winter
As the winter approaches, with its cold nights, windy days and dark evenings, we all start to turn up the heating and turn on the lights. With this heating and lighting comes added energy use and of course, energy costs. However, there are a few neat tricks that you can employ to make your home more energy efficient, even in the winter. By following some of these DIY tips, you can save energy, while also being more comfortable.
- Exploit your programmable thermostat: constant temperatures or gradual changes provide the most efficient heating. Program your thermostat to a few degrees cooler at night and to increase to the temperature you want an hour before you wake up or before you get home from work. This will ensure you're warm when necessary, and save money on your heating bill!
- Keep temperatures a little lower: Shaving 2 or 3 degrees off the temperature of your heating will make a big difference in heating costs. While you shouldn't freeze, putting on a sweater or having blankets by the TV can still keep you warm. Lowering the thermostat can really make your home heating more efficient.
- Add insulation: Adding extra insulation to the space behind your walls, your attic and basement ceiling can make a big difference.
- Add a thermal layer to your windows: Installing window insulation - clear plastic films - that are available from most hardware stores is a quick, inexpensive way to seal up leaky windows.
- Buy heavier drapes: Curtains or drapes can really help to keep heat in at night, so buy some in a heavy, dark material to get the most out of them.
- Heat with the sun: Although sunny days are less frequent in winter, when the sun is shining, make sure you let it in by drawing any drapes, curtains or blinds. Building your home with lots of south-facing windows (in the Northern hemisphere) can also exploit the natural, renewable heat of the sun.
- Seal your home: Weatherstripping and caulking small holes in your walls and windows can really help to make your heating more efficient. Check for drafts especially at corners, around chimneys, where pipes or wires exit the home. One of the easiest ways to check for drafts is to get an incense stick and hold it up to places where you think there is a draft. If you see the smoke moving, there's your draft!
- Stop internal drafts with draft snakes: Drafts can waste 5% to 30% of your energy use. Start simple by place a rolled bath towel under a drafty door, or you can make a draft snake by sewing a long tube of fabric together and filling it with sand! You should also check for drafty electrical sockets, and stop the drafts on these by installing foam backings that slot right behind the plastic outlet covers.
- Reverse your ceiling fans: Many ceiling fans come with a reverse switch: switching the direction of the blades to clockwise makes your living space warmer by circulating the warm air that has risen to the ceiling back down.
- Turn your hot water down: Lower the temperature of your water heater from 140°F to 120°F (or lower) to reduce your water heating costs. You can also use specialty hot water tank wrap (that you can buy from any hardware store) to prevent heat loss from your tank. You can also buy pipe wrap that goes around all of your hot water pipes, to keep the water in your pipes warm consistently. No need to wait for the water to warm up in the mornings!
- Don't heat what you don't use: Shutting rooms off that you don't use very often can stop you from heating these areas.
Image courtesy of pasukaru76 on Flickr
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