The Top 8 Winter Energy Efficiency Tips
By Adam, December 27, 2011
As we’ve mentioned before, Winter in Texas can be a slightly dubious endeavor. Spring-ish days where half of the city will be wearing t-shirts and shorts are followed promptly by a flurry of frozen activity requiring everyone to don their best sweaters, scarves, and woolen hats. It’s Texas – you get used to it after a few years of experiencing what passes for the four traditional seasons.
Nevertheless, the increased chance of colder temperatures will increase your need to use the heater, and this seasonal spike in usage will cause your energy bill to increase. Thankfully, we’re here to provide you with what we think are the Top 8 Tips for improving the winter energy efficiency of your home, apartment, or business.
Check For Drafts
This is the easiest and best place to start with any energy efficiency project. Simply look for any place in your house that exits to the outside world – doors, windows, and (believe it or not) electrical outlets. If you put your hand up to these portals and you can feel cool air blowing against, then chances are, you have a few drafts leaking outside air into your home or business. And the more outside air you have coming inside, the harder your heater is working to warm up that air. Once you’ve located these drafts, it’s time to launch into the rest of our list.
Seal Those Cracks
The best place to start with this tip is to squirt some caulk or expanding foam into the tiny cracks and spaces that exist around your door and window frames, along with the seal that holds the windowpanes in place. Often, the older your residence of business, the wider such spaces are, and this situation is definitely a big cause of low energy efficiency. Some people even suggest attaching plastic sheets to old creaky windows, but if you’re a fan of looking out your windows, then the aforementioned caulk is the way to go.
Jamb That Door
After you’ve sealed the cracks and spaces around your doorframe, now it’s time to check the actual doorjamb itself. You achieve this by making sure the door closes easily – if it doesn’t, that means the door isn’t creating a good seal, and that dreaded outside air is making its way inside. This can be corrected with a few easy steps: 1) cleaning out or replacing the door latch and strike plate; 2) cleaning and oiling the hinges; and 3) replacing any weather stripping that might be damaged or altogether missing.
Sweep Your Chimney
Now we’re getting to the more complex stuff. Not all of us have chimneys, especially those of us who live in apartments or in more modern style housing, but the people who do have them should be aware of the potential heat loss involved. We would recommend that chimney owners seek out an expert chimney sweep in your area that can safely and securely investigate your chimney’s damper, flue, and smoke stack. These professionals will even be able to provide a bevy of ideas on how to use your fireplace to generate more heat safely and efficiently
Clean Those Ducts
We’re in luck – even the amateurs among us can launch into this item by first replacing your home air filters. From here, things can get tricky, as you will want to inspect your home’s ductwork for potential drafts caused by breaks or tears in the ducts. As before, any gaps or spaces will always allow cold outside air to seep into your home or business. And as with chimneys, investing in a professional to examine your house in the short-term will lead to long-term savings from increased energy efficiency.
Fix That Fan
This one is rather simple, since the direction of spin for most home ceiling fans can be reversed. Doing so causes the air to be drawn up into the middle of the room and then distributed evenly along the walls, which then creates a warmer environment without needing to crank up the heater much.
Install A Thermostat
Admittedly, this tip does require a bit of capital investment, but like many of our other tips, the benefits greatly outweigh the costs. Sure, we’d like to say that we remember to adjust the thermostat manually each day when we leave for work, but there are plenty of days we forget simply because real life got in the way. By installing a programmable thermostat, you won’t have to worry about remembering to tweak the thermostat before you rush out the door in a hurry, and you have the added advantage of locking in a specific temperature rather than guessing at an average temperature range.
Insulate Your Home
Finally, we arrive at a rather onerous, but important tip on this list – checking the quality of your insulation. Fooling around with fiberglass is never much fun, no matter what the Pink Panther might imply, but the better your condition of your insulation, the more efficient your house will be. Simply put, heat rises, and if your insulation isn’t locking that heat into your house, you might as well be heating your kid’s backyard treehouse for all of the energy you’re using to keep your actual house warm.
The best part about these tips is that, while you’re striving to save money in the Winter by increasing your energy efficiency, they can easily be adapted for Summer purposes. And as any Texan knows, we get a bit more Summer heat in these parts than we do Winter cold. By making the steps to make your house more energy efficient when it’s slightly cooler during December, January, and February, you won’t have to explore your ducts, crawl around in your attic, or do anything too strenuous when it’s June, July, and August!