And now, dear people whose heating bills are so high they can’t afford to order takeout, we continue our ideas for ways to cut down on your energy consumption this winter:
Clean furnace filters
Sexy, right? Okay, not so much. But your furnace filters need to be cleaned or replaced every month during the cold season. Alternatively, you can buy a permanent filter, which catches 88% of debris, compared with only 40% for disposable fiberglass filters. Increase your lung health while you decrease your energy spending? A HEPA filter, which is top of the line, catches 99.9% of particles.
Turn down water heater
Most people’s heaters are set to 140 degrees; turn yours down to no more than 120-125. If you think you’ll miss that scalding hot water, think about all the times you’ve burned your hands because you didn’t turn the cold up enough. Why not just start out at a temperature that doesn’t cause injury? It can save 7-11% of your water heating bill.
Another highly sexy option. If your water pipes feel warm—or hot—when you touch them, they would benefit from insulation. (That warm feeling? It’s your hot water heating the air around the pipes, instead of just heating you.) You can do this yourself with insulating foam and duct tape.
Water heater blanket
Is your water heater more than five years old? Give it a blankey: swathing the heater with an insulated blanket will increase its efficiency.
Reverse your fans
What, you thought fans were only for cool air? True, when they run counterclockwise. But if you pull that “switch direction” pulley, you’ll re-circulate warm air throughout your house, and save 10-20% of energy costs.
Get an energy audit
Why not hire someone to tell you exactly where you’re wasting energy, and how to fix it? Yep, there are people who do this for a living. Or you can attempt it yourself. The government will tell you how.
Buy high-efficiency light bulbs
Now that the sun sets at approximately 2 p.m., you’ll be using more and more hours of artificial light. Consider switching to high-efficiency CLF bulbs, or LEDs. CFLs last much longer than halogen lights, and each bulb can save you several tens of dollars over the course of its lifetime. Just make sure you dispose of them properly—i.e. not in the trash—when they die; they contain mercury.
If you have old and inefficient appliances, it might be worth replacing them with Energy Star models. In the cold months, this is especially true of heaters. May you be warm this winter!
How do you stay warm while saving money? Tell us here or on Facebook!