With the snow piling up, winter kicking into high gear and many more cold days ahead of us, it’s a good time to think about and plan on how to stay warm, while saving a little energy and money in the process.
We all like to have cozy homes and when it’s bitterly cold outside, no one wants to compromise on comfort. By taking a close look at your home for drafts and fixing them, you can greatly add to the comfort of your home without spending a lot of money. And less drafts means less heating dollars out the window (or door or attic).
Common drafts problems and solutions include:
- Windows and Doors – you can tell quite easily if your windows and doors are drafty –you can feel it. And you can fix that problem almost as easily – add caulk or weather stripping where air leaks are occurring. Also check your doors – are they hung properly? If they’re not, they are likely allowing a lot of cold air into your home.
- Check the fireplace – is the flue damper shut when not in use? Do the doors to the fireplace close securely? They should – otherwise you’re letting heated air out through the chimney and cool exterior air into your home.
- Do you have adequate insulation? Adding insulation to an under-insulated attic can be an affordable and effective way to warm your home. Beefing up the insulation in your house’s attic, walls, floors and ceilings slows the flow of air between inside and outside, making it easier to control your home’s temperature
Drafts obviously, aren’t the only thing that affect the comfort level or energy consumption in your home. Here are a few more simple things you can do to reduce your energy costs:
Set your thermostat down when you’re away and at night. Research shows that the longer a house stays at a reduced temp, the more energy and money is saved. Setting your temperature back 10 or more degrees for 8 hours (while you’re away or asleep) can reduce your energy bill by 5-15%. And a programmable thermostat can adjust and manage the temps for you automatically!
One of the least expensive and most effective changes you can make in your home to reduce energy use is replacing your light bulbs. A qualified compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL), which costs just a few dollars, can save about $30 over its lifetime and pay for itself in about 6 months. It uses 75 percent less energy and lasts about 10 times longer than an incandescent bulb.
Using less water will lower your water bill. And when you use less hot water, you’ll also see savings on your utility bill. To cut down on water use, take shorter showers and be conscious of the water you use when washing dishes, clothes and preparing food. You can also save energy by lowering your hot water temperature.
Don’t forget the typical energy savings, too – like turning off lights when you leave a room and unplugging un-used appliances, or replacing/recycling old secondary appliances that are barely used (that old fridge in the garage).
The winter doesn’t have to mean living in a home that is drafty and cold with enormous energy bills. Take the time to make a few simple changes and you’ll easily survive the winter and maybe, even, have a few extra bucks in your pocket by the time the snow melts.
The Minnesota Association of REALTORS® is the largest professional trade association in the state with more than 17,000 members who are active in all aspects of the real estate industry.