5 Ways to Conserve Energy at Home in Fall and Winter
Whether you’re interested in preserving and improving the health of our planet through the products you buy and the practices you follow or you’re merely looking to save some money on your utility bills, conserving energy can deliver on both fronts. But short of installing solar panels or a residential wind turbine, you might not have the first idea about how to start when it comes to cutting your energy consumption. Wearing sweaters and wool socks indoors and throwing extra blankets on the bed will only work for so long as fall turns into winter, and then you’re going to have to fire up the furnace and get some forced air heating into your home. But there are ways to ensure that you’re getting the greatest energy efficiency possible so that your usage and cost don’t go through the roof. Here are some options you might not have considered.
- Conduct a home energy audit. Although you can find tutorials online to do this type of energy waste assessment on your own, you might want to call in the pros in order to get the best possible results. You can start by calling your power provider, although they may refer you to a third party if they don’t employ such in-home service professionals. Either way, an expert technician will come to your home and test it top to bottom to see where the bought air is getting out, resulting in a comprehensive report, complete with suggestions for repairs, that will give you the data you need to decrease energy waste.
- Seal leaks and add insulation. Once you’ve had your home energy audit it’s time to start implementing upgrades and repairs intended to increase the overall efficiency of your home. You’ll probably want to add weather stripping to doors, hang storm windows (or replace single-pane windows with double- or triple-paned options if you have the money), and seal any leaks around vents, ductwork, pipes, and even base boards. In some cases you’ll also want to look into the prospect of replacing or adding to your insulation.
- Consider a system upgrade. If your utility bills jump by a significant margin during the fall and winter months it might be a good time to think about replacing your furnace, boiler, or other heating unit with a modern, energy-efficient model. This upgrade could pay for itself over time in savings, but it might also add to the value of your home if you sell before too long.
- Consider radiant floor heating. You might think that this addition will end up using more energy rather than less. But when you have heat coming up from the floor (remember, heat rises), you can more evenly and efficiently heat the space than with forced air. Further, many types of flooring (most notably stone or tile) hold heat so that a little goes a long way.
- Plant a tree line. Most people don’t consider their landscaping to be part of their home energy savings strategy, but this is a mistake. The flora and fauna around your home can help a lot when it comes to regulating your interior temperature and conserving energy in the process. In the summer trees can provide shade that cuts energy costs by as much as 30%. And in the winter they can act as a wind break to keep the bitter cold at bay, reducing your need for home heating.