Home Improve

The summer months mean high energy bills thanks to your running air conditioner, but the fall and winter months can become daunting just as quickly as temperatures plummet and your home becomes colder. While we can often ignore warmer temperatures, colder temperatures in the home can actually cause a lot of damage, especially to your pipes. Its important to keep your home at a constant temperature, no matter how cold it gets out side. Doing so may cost you quite a bit, but these tips will help you to minimize your increased cool weather energy costs.

Install a Programmable Thermostat

This is one of the most important things you can do. A shift of up to 10 degrees in your homes temperature, especially at night, can save you up to 20% off your bill each month. You can also set the temperature to be lower when youre at work or school, programming the thermostat to start warming the home not long before you come back. This is a lot more efficient than shutting the system off completely when you are gone because it allows your home to be at a cooler, constant temperature without allowing the temperatures to plummet.

Dress in Warm Clothing

Adding a sweat shirt and some warm winter socks to your wardrobe will keep you comfortable and will allow you to drop the temperature in your home another degree or two. Dropping the temperature by just a single degree – especially during the cooler hours of the day – will reduce your use of energy by a staggering 3%. That may not seem like much, but the dollar savings can add up quickly.

Take Advantage of Sunlight

Even though its cold outside, the suns natural rays can do quite a bit to warm up your home. The sun will enter your home from the south during the day, so those are the windows you should keep uncovered during the daytime. Close the curtains at night to block some of the draft and cool air.

Winterize Your Homes Duct System

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, your home heating systems effectiveness can be decreased by up to 30% if your ductwork is leaking. Make sure your homes ductwork is sealed an insulated properly so that your entire heating system works optimally.

Winterize Your Homes Windows

Check your homes windows and make sure theyre winterized. If you have rooms that are rarely used, you can insulate them temporarily by taping clear sheets of plastic over top. The clear plastic will allow sunlight to naturally heat the room but will prevent cool air from entering through older, draftier windows. In rooms that you do use, check to make sure your windows are properly caulked and sealed. You can also find heavy drapes that will help to insulate the room during the hours you arent allowing natural sunlight in.

Service Your Heating System before the Weather is Frigid

Have a heating and cooling specialist visit your home before the weather is absolutely unbearable. Finding problems before the weather is really cold will help you to avoid the waste that happens when you run an ineffective system. It will also save you the extra fees an emergency call will create in the middle of a cold snap.

Check Your Fireplace

Finally, make sure you are properly closing your fireplace damper when your fireplace is not in use. Have a professional come out before the cold season starts to check your flue, plugs, seals, and grates. Make sure your grates are allowing warm air to flow back into the room so that your fireplace is not just pretty, but functional, too. Using your fireplace should allow you to drop your thermostat down a few degrees as well  at least during the hours its in use.

The winter months, for most, automatically mean higher gas and electric bills. Take some time now to make sure your home is prepared and youll be able to save quite a bit of money when the real cold weather hits.