It can seem easier to save energy in the warmer months, but it’s just as important (and even more economical) in colder weather. To get advice on how to save energy in the winter, I asked the eco-friendly home performance experts atfor their advice on reducing our carbon footprint in our homes from December to June. Their best tips, as well as our our advice for work, school, and travel, are included in our 10 easy ways to save energy this winter:
1. Turn your thermostat down just a few degrees. This will give you an excuse to break out the hot cocoa or that favorite fuzzy bathrobe, and will save you hundreds over the course of one winter. It’s surprising how quickly you can get used to a new ‘baseline’ temperature in your home.
2. Have your heating and cooling system maintained and cleaned yearly. A thin layer of dirt on the inside coil of your system can reduce efficiency by 10% or more. Few people think about this hidden efficiency issue, but almost all local heating and cooling industry professionals will offer this service.
3. Replace your most used lighting with CFL or LED lightbulbs. LED bulbs use up to 75% less energy and last longer than incandescant bulbs. Get over the initial sticker price and change out your bulbs this winter!
4. Ride your bike to work. Yes, you can still commute to work by bike in winter! Wear rain gear over work clothes to make the transition into the office easy, and make sure you have a quality safety light if your commute will be in the dark. My favorite: the GoMotion LiteBelt.
5. When going on extended vacation, turn down your hot water heater to ”vacation mode” or “low”, unplug unused/un-needed appliances or electronics to combat “vampire” usage, set your thermostat to 60-65, and turn your thermostat down on your pool or spa.
6. Have your home “performance tested” to determine any duct leakage, under-insulation, or excessive air leakage in the house. In our area of the northwest, for instance, duct leakage is 25-40% on average. This can cause efficiency concerns obviously, but also health, safety, and comfort issues in the home. Make sure the air you breathe the most–the air in your home–is not making you sick this winter!
7. Car pool to school or work. My family is involved in no less than four different car pools to accommodate my kids’ school and activity schedules. While sometimes confusing, carpooling saves us hundreds of dollars in fuel costs and reduces our carbon footprint.
8. Don’t block registers, radiators, return air, or baseboard heaters. Be sure to check the vents under beds and in closets, which can easily become blocked by blankets, clothes, or boxes.
9. Buy (and prepare) seasonal produce. Instead of having your fresh fruit shipped from abroad, find out what’s seasonal locally. Look up recipes using seasonal ingredients, and find inspiration at your local farmer’s markets.
10. Light candles instead of switching on lights. I’m not suggesting you do everything by candlelight, but winter candles can add a nice touch to the dining room during meals or the living room while you’re only needing low light.
What ideas do you have for reducing energy use during the winter months?
Photo credit: thisreidwrites