5 Simple Tips For An Energy Efficient Home This Winter
Minnesota winters can be brutal but even as we try our hardest to stay warm, we also want to stay energy efficient.
Winter is here and the chill has started to set in.
We have already found ourselves walking a little faster to and from our cars and bundling up with multiple layers of sweaters. If you’re anything like us, we like to stay warm!
So, while the temps are dropping outside the winter also means the heating bills are starting to rise.
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In order to avoid extra heating costs and increase your home’s energy efficiency, there are a few simple tips we recommend to homeowners.
Don’t worry, these are things anyone can do, no professional skills required!
1. Change Your Furnace Filter
Your furnace filter is responsible for removing particles from the air so they don’t clog up your HVAC system. How long has it been since you changed your furnace filter? Take a walk to your furnace and check out that filter. When you pull it out, notice that if the filter has cardboard around the outside, the size will be written on it.
The size of the filter will determine how often it needs to be changed and you can find that recommendation of how often from the manufacturer on filter itself. A general rule of thumb for how often they will need to be changed is: 1'“-2” filters every 1 to 3 months, 3”-4” filters every 6 to 9 months, and 5”-6” filters ever 9 to 12 months.
Depending on your home, you may want to change it more often than what is recommended by the manufacturer if you notice that the filter is covered in buildup or you see dust in the air. Since we all get busy and can forget, we recommend setting a reminder on your phone to check the furnace regularly, about once a month or so, to make sure you are changing it as needed. Remember, a clean filter means your furnace will run more efficiently!
If you need a custom size or want a unique type of filter, check out Nordic Air! They can get you pretty much anything you need for furnace filters and will create custom sizes in about a week if they don’t stock the one you need.
2. Check For Drafts
As the weather gets colder, wood doors and door jams can shrink causing gaps. Drafts can come in through gaps in your exterior doors and cause a loss of heat to the home. An easy way to see if you may have drafts from your doors is to stand back and look at the door, can you see light coming in around the edge? If you can, it is probably time to adjust it.
If the light is coming in, it is probably easiest to start with the threshold. Many newer doors have an adjustable threshold that can be moved up and down to shrink gaps. If you’re not able to adjust the threshold, you can always try a draft stopper to help reduce drafts and keep the warm air in.
After adjusting the threshold (if possible), take a look at the weatherstripping. Make sure it is in good condition and if it isn’t, you can remove and replace it to ensure a tighter seal that will keep heat from escaping.
Lets not forget, windows can also be culprits for drafts and loss of heat to a home. Especially in older homes where the windows have not been replaced with more energy efficient models. When looking for a cost effective way to reduce heating loss from your windows, film kits are the easiest place to start. They are relatively quick and easy to use as well which makes them a great option!
3. Set Your Thermostat
Most of us spend a significant amount of time away from our homes each day. An easy way to reduce heating costs can be to reduce how high the thermostat is set to run while you’re away. Many modern thermostats have the ability set a schedule adjust the temperature in your home depending on whether you are, or are not, at home.
Energy Star recommendations suggest keeping your energy saving set points for periods of at least 8 hours to get the most cost benefit. Depending on your thermostat, it may also allow for multiple zones to be set to different schedules. In that case, it is recommended to prioritize heating the areas that you use, and reduce the temperature in the areas you don’t often use, in order to be more energy efficient. Don’t forget, if you plan to go out of town for the holidays, make sure to take advantage of the time away to save money by changing your settings accordingly.
4. Insulate the Exterior
We recommend regularly taking a walk around the outside of your home to check for holes in the siding and masonry. If you do locate small holes, a simple way to patch these holes is to use a foam insulation.
There are different types of foam and insulation for different uses. Make sure to find the appropriate type depending on the material you are patching to ensure the best result. Keep in mind, using the foam may be a temporary solution before winter to keep the cold out but if you find significant holes it is smart to actually patch them after filling with insulation to ensure the home is safe, draft-free and watertight.
5. Switch to LED Lights
Decorating for the holiday season can make your home a winter wonderland, but if you aren’t using LED lights you may be paying more than you need to. Making a swap to LED lighting for both interior and exterior decorating is a great idea as it can save you money on your electric bill since LED bulbs use less electricity than incandescent lights. In addition, LED lights have the benefit of lasting up to 20,000 hours, which can also save you money on bulb replacement!
To ensure you don’t forget to turn those lights off each evening before heading to bed, use a timer that can be set to automatically handle it for you. Come home to a beautifully lit home and head to bed knowing they will turn off according to your set preferences. You’ll be saving money while your home looks like a million bucks.
Don’t settle in for the winter just yet! Make energy efficient changes a priority for your home and keep drafts from stealing your heat. Taking these simple steps can make a difference in your energy efficiency, ultimately saving you more money during these cold winter months.
Have you tried any of these energy efficient tips for yourself or do you have other tips that have worked well for you? Share them with us below!