5 Ways To Conserve Energy During The Winter
Change Furnace Filters
Yes it’s easy to forget, but it’s important to replace or clean your furnace filters once a month during the heating season. Dirty filters restrict air flow and increase energy demand. Here’s a worry-saving tip: Mark a monthly check on your calendar.
Better, consider switching to a permanent filter, which will reduce waste and hassle. Did you know that disposable fiberglass filters trap a measly 10% to 40% of debris? Electrostatic filters trap around 88%, and are much better at controlling the bacteria, mold, viruses and pollen that cause illness and irritation. They cost $50 to $1,000 or more. Another good choice is a genuine high-efficiency particulate air filter, which can remove 99.97% of airborne particles. HEPA filters are based on Energy Department standards. Avoid “HEPA-like” filters, which can be vastly less effective.
Buying a new furnace is expensive, but replacing an inefficient burner with a modern machine will save you money every month through the heating season.
Turn Down Your Water Heater
While many conventional water heaters are set to 140 degrees Fahrenheit by installers, most households don’t need water that hot, and end up paying for it — in dollars and the occasional burn. Lowering the temperature to 120 degrees or lower would reduce your water-heating costs by 6% to 10%.
If you start to wonder why you need a tank at all, you may be ready for a tankless water heater, or to go solar.
Install Storm Doors & Windows
Installing a storm door can increase energy efficiency by 45%, by sealing drafts and reducing air flow. Storm doors also offer greater flexibility for letting light and ventilation enter your home. Look for Energy Star-certified models.
Similarly, storm windows can make a huge difference when the cold wind starts blowing. It may be a pain, but it is well worth it to get them out of the shed or attic and install them for the season.
Make sure each is securely shut. They don’t do much good if you leave them in the up position by mistake.
Use Caulking & Weatherstripping
Simple leaks can sap home energy efficiency by 5% to 30% a year, according to the Energy Department. That means it pays to seal up gaps with caulking and weatherstripping.
Take a close look at places where two different building materials meet, such as corners, around chimneys, where pipes or wires exit and along the foundation. Use the incense test: Carefully move a lit stick along walls, avoiding drapes and other flammables; where the smoke wavers, you have air sneaking in — and heating or cooling sneaking out.
In another method, have someone on the outside blow a hair dryer around each window while you hold a lighted candle inside. If the candle flickers or goes out, you need to caulk or weatherstrip around the frame.
Use An Energy Monitor
Measure your way to savings with an energy monitor (pictured is the TED, The Energy Detective, which starts at $139). Such a device indicates household electrical usage in real time and projects your monthly bill. Research has found that this kind of information can lead consumers to reduce their electricity consumption significantly.
In fact, according to the company that makes the TED, you’ll save 15% to 20% on each bill, which would amount to hundreds of dollars a year. By seeing exactly how much each appliance or activity costs, you’ll start seeing easy ways to cut waste.
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