Easy Ways to Waste Less Gas and Electric During Winter
Even if your house came with an ENERGY STAR rating, there are some easy things you can do to waste less gas and electric this upcoming winter and save some money. Winter 2017-18 promises to be a wet one in Indiana with plenty of snow and ice, as temperatures will dip closer to their normal lows as compared to last year.
The last thing anyone wants is to waste money on gas and electricity bills, especially when there are such easy ways to prevent that waste. Below are nine simple — and low-cost — ways you can use less gas and electric this winter and save money for some wintertime fun.
Reverse Electric Current: Run Ceiling Fans Clockwise
Fans typically rotate in a counter-clockwise motion, which pulls air up. This is great in the summer, as it draws up cool air from the ground. However, when the temperatures get as cold as they do in Indiana during winter, you don’t want to circulate cold air.
The good news is that on most models you can actually reverse the direction of ceiling fans. Many fans have a switch, which you can easily reverse to change the direction of the fan. Changing the direction pushes warm air down. Doing this can save up to 10 percent on your gas and electric bills.
Waste Not: Make Draft Guards
The U.S. Department of Energy states that homes waste between 5 and 30 percent of the energy they consume each year due to drafts alone. One way to battle drafts is to buy or make draft guards. Also called a draft snake, these depression-era innovations guard against air leaks at the bottom of exterior doors and windows.
Draft guards are readily available online and at retail stores. You can also easily make one yourself. Just fill a slender tube of durable cloth with anything from cat litter to popcorn kernels and sew it up.
Want Not: Wear a Sweater and Turn Down the Heat
Turning your thermostat down 7 to 10 degrees during the winter can save you up to 10 percent on your heating bill, according to Energy.gov. Adjusting and maintaining the temperature is easier with a programmable thermostat, too. Households that use programmable thermostats waste less energy and save an average of $180 per year.
But you won’t even miss the extra few degrees Fahrenheit after you’ve put on a sweater. A warm sweater will make you feel 4 degrees warmer.
Winter Storms Ahead: Install Storm Windows
Simply installing storm windows can decrease gas and electric waste during winter by as much as 45 percent. Storm windows work by stopping drafts and energy exchange between uninsulated windows and the cold, outdoor air. Storm windows also provide a layer of insulation with the air they trap.
Frosted Window Panes: Insulate Your Windows
Not everyone can afford to replace their home’s windows with new, ENERGY STAR-rated panes. And some people, such as renters, simply don’t have the option of replacing them. Fortunately, there’s an easy way to top energy loss through windows. Installing insulation film (also called window film) on your windows can make them 19 to 30 percent more efficient, which can amount to lots of dollars saved on gas and electric bills. Properly installed, they’re invisible (depending on the brand and exact type). Kits costs between $20 to $35 dollars and cover five or so windows.
Gas Leak: Seal Your Building
Drafts are a major source of energy inefficiency in homes and buildings during late fall and winter. Cracks and crevices around windows, like the windows themselves, are a major source of heat loss. An easy way to ensure you’re not inviting cold air inside is to caulk the exterior of your home and install weatherstripping tape along the edges of windows. Tape usually costs $5 to $10 per roll. Caulk costs between $10 and $20 for a tube. Caulk guns costs about $20.
You can easily test for drafts using a hair dryer and a candle. Have one person stand outside and blow the hair dryer around the edges of windows and doors. Have the second person stand inside, holding the candle opposite of where the hair dryer is blowing. If there’s a crack, the air from the hair dryer will make the flame flicker.
Easy on the Eyes: Monitor Gas and Electric Usage
Keep track of your gas and electric consumption by installing an energy monitor. Energy monitors are devices that keep track of how much energy your household or office is using. They do so in real time and will even project monthly bills. By allowing home and business owners to actively see how much they’re spending on energy, these devices can save up to 15 percent a year in energy costs, assuming the home or business owner adjusts their energy use.
Keep Out Old Man Winter: Install Insulation
Making sure your house or building is well insulated is yet another way you can waste less energy and save money on heating bills. Adding insulation to your attic area and below your floors can help you retain cool air in the summer and retain heat in the winter.
Like windows and HVAC units, insulation comes with an energy rating, and certain products are ENERGY STAR certified. Fiberglass insulation costs about $25 per roll.
Before installing additional insulation, make sure to research how much you need and consult a local expert. It is possible to install too much insulation, thereby retaining moisture, which fosters mold and damage.
No Chestnuts this Year? Install a Chimney Balloon
Chimneys can be a huge source of energy waste during the winter months. Therefore, if you won’t be lighting fires, you’ll want to make sure to block the flue to prevent downdrafts, warm air from escaping, and debris from accumulating in your hearth.
Installing an inflatable chimney balloon prevents valuable heat from escaping. The balloons are fairly affordable, costing about $55.