Home Energy Saving Tips For The Winter Months

by Bill Gassett on October 12, 2010 · 9 comments

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Home Energy Saving Tips For The Winter Months

Massachusetts Energy saving tips Winter

It is no secret that energy prices have been a big part of every Massachusetts home owners budget for the last few years.

As we head towards Winter there are some fairly easy and inexpensive things you can do to save additional money and conserve energy. Some are fairly obvious and easy.

Easy energy saving tips for your home

Turn back the thermostat -  People automatically assume that turning back the thermostat will save loads of money. The key here is not to turn it too far back! When you are heating a home everything in the house gets warmed as well. So all the furniture, cabinets and other items in the home act as a sponge absorbing heat.

When you turn the heat down it actually makes the furnace work harder to raise the home temperature as well as everything in the home back to the original temp.

What I would suggest is to upgrade to a programmable thermostat and set the temperature down during the time when you are not home. You want to make sure however that you are not turning the temperature down drastically.

For example, I would not change the difference in temperature by more than 5 degrees. So if you are normally comfortable at 70 degrees I would not set the thermostat back to more than 65 degrees.

As an additional thought, if your home is equipped with a multiple zone system, I would also suggest that you may want to keep the area of your home where you sleep a little bit warmer than the rest of the home.  If all of your bedrooms are on the 2nd floor there is no sense in keeping the downstairs the same temperature as the bedroom area. Have your thermostat set to go down at night on the 1st floor by a few degrees and then come back up in the morning.

Close the fireplace damper – This is one of the easiest things to forget about but also a place where a lot of heat loss can occur in a home. Don’t let all that heat get lost going up and out the chimney.

Give your heating system a tune up – Proper maintenance is vital to keeping your heating system running as efficiently as possible. Make sure that you have your heating system cleaned and inspected at least once a year if you have oil heat and at least every two years if you are using gas as a fuel source. During the heating season make sure that your filters are changed once a month.

Fill the gaps with weather stripping and caulking- make sure all your doors and windows are tight. Just the other day I noticed a draft coming from the interior door leading to the garage. I had not noticed that the weather stripping was missing. You can pick up an item like this at Home Depot or Lowe’s for under ten dollars. If you have a home with older windows make sure you caulk and gaps. Using the locks also provides for a tighter and less draft resistant fix.

Window air conditioners- If your home is not cooled by a central air system and you are using  window air conditioners make sure that all the gaps between the window and exterior have been filled. This is a notorious problem for air penetration.

Add additional insulation to the home – Adding additional insulation to your attic, basement and outside walls is a low cost improvement that returns money the longer you stay in the home. This can be done either with insulation bats or with blown in cellulose.

Keep furniture away from vents – If you have furniture blocking your vents you will drastically cut the efficiency of the heating system. In one of the rooms in my home I happen to have long draperies. This can be a problem as well if they are not tied back. Keeping your drapes away from blocking the vents is an important consideration.

Keep the vents clean – Make sure you keep your baseboard, radiators and registers dust and dirt free. This will not only have a drag on efficiency but who wants to breath lousy air. If your home has a forced hot air heating system it is easy to accumulate dust and debris. There are many companies that you can call to have your ducts cleaned.

Seal your duct work – If you have FHA (forced hot air) make sure the ducts are properly sealed. Over time the tape used to seal openings and joints can start to open or even fall off.

Unplug appliances not in use -  One of the biggest drains on energy consumption is having an extra appliance like a fridge. There are many that folks that have them. Of course guys are notorious for wanting to have that extra place to store their beer.  Things like extra televisions and other household appliances that do not get use often should also get unplugged. These appliances although are not being used still drain energy and cost you money. The term often used to describe this is “leaking energy”. Look at the electrical meter on your house before and after doing this and see what I mean.

Home energy savings for Winter

Use power strips – Plug home electronics devices, such as TVs and stereo equipment, into power strips; turn the power strips off when the equipment is not in use.

Clean the refrigerator coils – Once a year you should vacuum or clean the fridge coils especially if you have a pet. Dirt, dust and pet hair on the coils will impede air flow and make the heat transfer less efficient forcing the appliance to work harder. It is estimated that dirty coils can cut the energy use by 6%. This would save around 15$ per year on an older fridge.

Turn off bath fans – After taking a shower make sure the bath fan does not stay on longer than necessary. This is an opportunity for heat to get sucked out of a home.

Turn down water heater temperature – In most homes the water temperature set on a water heater is between 130-145 degrees. Setting the temp back to 120 is more than enough for a hot shower. It is estimated that a 10 degree temperature reduction can reduce water heating costs by 5%. Lowering the temperature by 20 degrees could save the average family around 50$ per year.

Low flow shower heads – Install low flow shower heads to conserve heated water. Also keeping the time in the shower down also helps.

Wrap the water heater – You can buy a water heater wrap at most hardware stores, Home Depot, or Lowes for around 25$. The blanket will pay for itself in a year and offer saving after that. According to the Department of Energy this will save the average household around 4-9% of their annual total water heating costs (around 12$-48$ for most homes.) It will also help to insulate the first 6 feet of the hot and cold water pipes connected to the water heater.

Purchase energy star products – Energy Star Products are much more efficient and designed to save energy. For example an Energy Star fridge uses about 20% less energy than a standard refrigerator. Over time the savings can really add up.

Open shades and curtains – Opening shades and curtains on the South side of the home is something that will give you a little something extra on those sunny days with a solar effect. Remember to close them at night to help keep the heat inside.

Interested in getting an Energy Star Audit on your home? Visit the Energy Star Audit website to get an evaluation done on your property. An energy star audit could really help you save some cash.

You can also visit the state by state Energy Star directory to find out if Home Performance with Energy Star is offered near you. For additional energy savings tips I would suggest visiting the Department of Energy website. I hope this advice provides some cost savings and helps reduce your homes energy bills!

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About the author: The above Real Estate information on Home energy saving tips for the Winter was provided by Bill Gassett, a Nationally recognized leader in his field. Bill can be reached via email at billgassett@remaxexec.com or by phone at 508-435-5356. Bill has helped people move in and out of many Metrowest towns for the last 24+ Years.

Thinking of selling your home? I have a passion for Real Estate and love to share my marketing expertise!

I service Real Estate needs in the following towns in Metrowest MA: Hopkinton, Milford, Southboro, Westboro, Ashland, Holliston, Medway, Franklin, Framingham, Grafton, Hopedale, Mendon, Upton, Northbridge, Shrewsbury, Northboro, Bellingham, Uxbridge, Worcester and Douglas.

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Peggy Dowcett October 12, 2010 at 5:12 pm

Bill – You offer some great energy saving tips! I found that programmable thermostats make a big difference in my heating bill. I would also recommend that homeowners shop around for heating oil, a website that I use is http://www.newenglandoil.com/.

Bill Gassett October 12, 2010 at 5:16 pm

Thanks Peggy. I appreciate you stopping by and commenting on my article about energy savings tips for the home and for the resource you have provided on heating oil.

Dan October 17, 2010 at 10:57 pm

Here is a free home enegy and water savings ideas we have been collecting the past three years:

http://dailyhomerenotips.com/energy-conservation/

This collection contains more than 535+ ways to save money through reduced energy and water utility bills, of which:

440+ are simple and easy to do
- 300+ cost absolutely no money
- 125+ cost next to nothing
- 145+ clean water saving tips
- 115+ electricity savings tips
- 110+ winter heating savings tips
- 80+ summer cooling saving tips

My favorite are all the simple / easy ones and the ones which cost absolutely nothing to do.

I hope this helps,
Dan

Bill Gassett October 17, 2010 at 11:59 pm

Excellent job with your list of energy saving tips Dan!

Craig December 8, 2010 at 10:49 pm

Bill,

Great stuff! Apparently I’m late in finding this post but these are so helpful. I’m out of college and in an apartment now so I actually have to worry about these bills. I read a cool fact about running your ceiling fan in reverse to evenly spread the warm air throughout your rooms. Thanks for the advice, and I found this creative post on other tips… I think utilizing solar heat will help a lot too. Thanks!

Chris Owen December 31, 2010 at 11:04 pm

We use the Heat Helper to keep the clothes dryer from emptying the house of heat every time we run it:

http://www.heat-helper.com/

Makes a huge difference. Sundays are laundry day here and the furnace never runs on Sundays when it used to run constantly.

The Tergis Team January 23, 2011 at 7:07 pm

Great Tips for all of us New Englanders. Thank you for sharing.

Bill Gassett January 23, 2011 at 7:19 pm

Thanks for the compliments Tergis Team! There are probably some home energy savings tips on that list that people forget about:)

John November 24, 2011 at 5:04 pm

I’m writing this to let you know of a new product that will help homeowners save money on their heating and cooling bills. The Larson Fan Company (on line) makes ventilation fan replacement inserts for ventilation fans made by the Broan and NuTone Companies, and is designed to save homeowners money on your utility bills by reducing the amount of energy their house uses. Typical homes can save 5-10% or more on their annually energy bills with these products. This is achieved because their ventilation fan inserts have an additional feature of an automatic built in damper. The built in damper will save homeowners money on their heating and cooling bills, by keeping warm air in their house during the winter, and preventing humid air from wicking into their house during the summer. This product really saves a lot when air conditioning is being used!

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