How to Save Energy This Fall & Winter
As the cooler days and nights of fall turn into full blown winter, thoughts turn to how to keep your house warm and snug. Here are some strategies to help you save energy.
Some of the tips below are free and 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 winter.
Take advantage of the sun’s free heat
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.
Many curtains are now designed to block out drafts and retain heat in your home – you can check these out at most home goods stores.
Cover drafty windows
Use a heavy-duty, clear plastic sheet on a frame or tape clear plastic film to the inside of your window frames during the cold winter months. Make sure the plastic is sealed tightly to the frame to help reduce infiltration.
Or, install tight-fitting, insulating drapes or shades on windows that feel drafty after weatherizing.
Adjust the temperature
When you’re home and awake, set your thermostat as low as is comfortable. When you’re asleep or out of the house, turn your thermostat back 10° to 15° for eight hours and save around 10% a year on your heating and cooling bills. A programmable thermostat can make it easy to set back your temperature.
Find and seal leaks
Seal the air leaks around utility cut-throughs for pipes (“plumbing penetrations”), gaps around chimneys and recessed lights in insulated ceilings, and unfinished spaces behind cupboards and closets.
Add caulk or weatherstripping to seal air leaks around leaky doors and windows.
Maintain your heating systems
Schedule service for your heating system – many area businesses offer seasonal deals and can come once in the spring and once in the fall to get you ready. Find out what maintenance is required to keep your heating system operating efficiently.
For furnaces: Replace your filter once a month or as needed.
For wood- and pellet-burning heaters: clean the flue vent regularly and clean the inside of the appliance with a wire brush periodically to ensure that your home is heated efficiently.
We all know a fireplace is so cozy when a fire is burning brightly, but do you know you’re also losing heat at the same time?
Keep your fireplace damper closed unless a fire is burning. Keeping it 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 1 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.
Lower your heating water costs
Water heating can account for 14% to 25% of the energy consumed in your home, so 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.
Lower your holiday lighting costs
When it comes to the holidays, we all want to light the night as brightly as possible, but there are more efficient ways than others to do so.
Use light-emitting diode – or “LED” – holiday light strings to reduce the cost of decorating your home for the winter holidays.Check out and compare the manufacturers and brands of ENERGYSTAR®-qualified decorative light strings.
Check out LEAP
If you want a more comprehensive energy assessment for your home, you can check out LEAP (Local Energy Alliance Program) and find out where you can save the most, and consider making a larger investment for long-term energy savings.
LEAP was established in 2009 with the help of a successful, joint grant application submitted by the City of Charlottesville and County of Albemarle to the Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance (SEEA).
It works to provide a one-stop shop for information on options, energy service providers, financing, and financial assistance for residential and commercial energy efficiency retrofits that create more comfortable, healthy and affordable homes and buildings.
LEAP also serves Albemarle, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa, and Nelson Counties and has expanded its service area to localities in Northern Virginia. Its mission is to lead the effort in our local community to conserve energy and water in buildings as a way to promote cost savings, job creation, local economic development, healthy communities, and environmental stewardship.