Simple Ways to Save Energy and Money This Winter
As the temperatures steadily drop and home-dweller windows stay seasonally closed, cost-effective ways to stay warm this winter, and to save some money at the same time, are looking better and better.
“Any little thing you can do makes a huge improvement,” said Ben Anderson, a longtime Green Vest from the Builder’s Hardware Department who saved 30 dollars a month last fall and winter on his energy bill.
“If you have old windows, it’s amazing how terrible the drafts can be,” he says, adding that insulator kits can turn single pane windows into double pane windows by sealing a layer of air in between, which acts as a temperature buffer zone.
Ben likes to use a lighter or a burning incense to tell where a draft could be entering his house through cracks around windows and doors. When he finds an air leak, he seals the area with a weather-stripping material like Mortite, which stays soft to make a better seal, and peels off in the springtime.
Another option, Ben says, is to seal around prime windows using expandable “no warp” spray foam insulation, but be careful NOT to use triple expansion foam, which may push the wood around the window so tight you won’t be able to get it open.
“It’s also important to have a good door sweep or door bottom,” he says, “that makes a huge difference, and especially because gas is so expensive.”
Cold air descends, so Ben is an advocate of using foil-lined attic fan covers to block air coming in from the outside, and even replacing the “can liners” of can lights with insulated versions. Small improvements like these, he says, can make heating your house much more efficient.
“Sometimes it’s better to use localized heaters rather than heating the entire house,” says DW Sharman, a Green Vest from the Electrical Department. “That way you’re not running the heating system for the whole place when you only need heat in the one room you’re occupying.”
The guys in plumbing will advise energy-saving residents–along with picking up a water heater blanket– to shut the vents in the rooms they’re not using, but DW recommends using devices called register boosters; they sit on top or inside of vents and thermostatically regulate the air flow, kicking on a fan whenever the desired air temperature is reached, and therefore maximizing the heat that already exists in the home.
“That way you’re not blowing cold air around,” DW says.
To save even more energy, he recommends switching all indoor and outdoor lights over to energy-efficient LEDs, and since the holidays are rapidly approaching, it might be a good plan to switch festive lights over as well.
“Holiday LEDs are also safer than older, more traditional lights, which have been known to cause fires,” he says.
Check out our list of items throughout the store that may help lower electricity usage and keep you nice and comfortable this fall and winter: