Conserving energy in the winter without compromising on your comfort is possible by making small home improvements and minor changes to your sleeping habits. Besides saving your energy dollars, you’ll also reduce the wear and tear on your heating equipment.
1. Seal the air leaks.
Air infiltration drives up heating costs in proportion to their size. They’re found around windows, exterior door frames, in foundations and attics. The pipes and wires that enter the home may have gaps around them, as well as vents that extend through the ceilings into the attic.
The most effective and fast way to identify the weaknesses in your home’s envelope is by having a professional energy audit conducted by an HVAC professional or a licensed energy auditor. They use tools and equipment to pinpoint the problem areas and measure how extensive the air leakage is.
In lieu of a professional audit, you can find air leaks by inspecting each exterior wall closely. Look around window frames for cracks and gaps around the foundation and entry points for plumbing and wiring.
Most air leaks are easy to seal with caulk and expanding foam. Use metal flashing around flues and chimneys. Fresh weatherstripping around door frames and inside window frames will stop drafts. If the fireplace damper doesn’t fit tightly, use an inflatable fireplace balloon to stop heat from going up the chimney.
2. Deal with the windows.
Besides air infiltration, windows can lose heat rapidly, especially if they’re single pane or unsealed dual pane. Energy efficient windows stop air infiltration and heat transfer through the glass. If they’re not in your budget, consider:
• Installing storm windows.
• Using window sealing kits.
• Hanging thermal draperies and closing them at night.
Storm windows and sealing kits create a thermal break between the cold air outside and the warmth indoors. You will still have some heat loss, but it will be substantially lower.
3. Use a programmable thermostat.
A programmable thermostat saves heat because it adjusts the temperature based on home occupancy, especially if you are away on a routine basis. The thermostat will automatically turn the temperature down when you’re away and at night.
The New York Times reports that temperatures between 60 and 68 degrees F promote the best sleep. The body needs to lower its temperature to reach the deepest sleep. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that lowering the thermostat at night will save up to 10 percent on your energy bills.