I am a member of Project Envolve, which is sponsored by PPL Electric Utilities. I received compensation in exchange for this post about how to lower your electric bill. All opinions are my own. #ProjectEnvolve #GetEnvolved
Hey, hey – There’s frost on our pumpkins! And, unfortunately, once the weather gets a little colder, there’s usually a lot of frost on the inside of our windows. But not any more, because we are right in the midst of finally replacing them!
My dad has been replacing the windows in our kids’ room to help us get ready for winter. The old windows were way too inefficient and drafty, and once he took the old windows out, we could see why.
The only insulation was a bunch of old cobwebs. Now, the surrounding frames have been filled in with new insulation and rock-solid replacement windows have replaced the old dinosaurs.
I don’t have any photos quite yet, because we’re not quite done, but I can already feel a difference in the kids’ room. For years, we wanted to replace drafty windows in a few of our homes but there was always a reason not to – either they weren’t in our budget, or we were planning on moving – so we made due with smaller, more affordable fixes to help keep our energy usage (and bills) down. And you now what? They all worked really, really well. In the case of winterizing your home, you don’t necessarily have to spend big to save big.
And today, as part of Project Envolve, a group of eco-conscious bloggers on a mission to help you cut energy consumption and lower your utility bill, I’m sharing the tips that have worked so well for us. I’ll start with a few straight from our team, then I’ll let you in on our family’s favorite winter energy hacks.Energy Savings Tips You Need NOW To Save Money ALL Winter Long #ProjectEnvolve Click To Tweet
Project Envolve Tips for Saving Energy All Winter:
1. AC goes undercover. Either remove those breezy window units, or do like we did and wrap them with an AC unit cover. It’s amazing how much cold air they can let in, and how much of a difference you can tell when you cover them up.
2. Spin the right way. Ventilation and airflow can help you use the warm air you have to your fullest advantage. If you have ceiling fans, use them strategically to achieve better airflow. If you set them to spin clockwise on low , they will trap heat inside and force it downward to keep your rooms warmer when the temps are cool. (In the summer, switch them to spin counter-clockwise for the opposite effect.)
3. Show your furnace a lot of love. There’s no question here. For the sake of efficiency and safety, your furnace needs maintenance. Have it cleaned yearly before you start running your heat, and make sure to change the filter regularly according to manufacturer’s recommendations.
4. Windows for the win. Storm windows are a great way to strengthen your barrier against the cold outside air, but a less expensive alternative that works surprisingly well is plastic window sheeting. It looks like plastic wrap, and you can barely see it once you stretch it over your windows and shrink it with your blow dryer. Fill larger gaps around your window frames with expanding foam, and use caulk for smaller cracks. Add a simple screw-on door sweep at the bottom of your door and you’ll dramatically decrease drafts and unnecessary energy waste.
A Few Other Ways to Save…
5. No wiggle room. Leaky windows are a no-brainer, but all those other cracks, openings and tiny gaps around your house add up to a lot of lost energy, so start seeking them out. There are lots of ways to test for leaks and gaps, from a full home energy audit to just feeling with your hand. Popular Mechanics recommends the incense test: carefully (avoiding drapes and other flammables) move a lit stick along walls; where the smoke wavers, you have air sneaking in. And heating or cooling sneaking out.
6. Think outside the house. You may have seen the switch plate insulators that fit inside your wall sockets and prevent air seepage. Don’t forget the outdoor sockets, switches and other fixtures, like spigots. A quick trip to Home Depot or other home store and you’ll have all the insulation tools you need to stop all those pesky gaps and drafts that want to eat your money.
7. Skip the exhaust. Exhaust fans in your kitchen and bathroom pull the highest air out, and that’s the hottest air. Use them only when necessary, and don’t forget to turn them off!
8. Rethink that hot shower. Heating water accounts for a large portion of our electric bills. That portion goes up if your heater is more than a decade old. If it’s not quite time yet to switch it out for a more efficient model, up the efficiency with a water heater blanket. You can also insulate your hot water pipes with insulating wraps. Not only will this lower your energy usage, but also the risk of your pipes freezing. Lowering your water temperature by ten degrees can save a good bit of energy and there’s a good chance you’ll never even notice the difference. And while we’re talking about showers, why not skip a few altogether? You’ll really save hot water that way, and with the harsh winter weather, your skin will probably thank you, too.
9. Close off rooms that you’re not using. Why heat them? Close the heat vents, too.
10. Get a humidifier to add moisture to the air. The air inside your home can become very dry. Moist air feels warmer and holds heat better, so a humidifier can help you feel comfortable when your thermostat is set at a lower temperature. You can also increase the humidity in your apartment with a collection of house plants.
11. Unplug! Yeah, I said it. In the midst of cabin fever, movies and video games might seem like your only portal to sanity, but being cooped up in the house can really drive up your energy usage when you rely on multiple devices, TVs and other electronics. If you’re home during the day with kids, designate reading or craft time daily, and try to get them involved in the kitchen.
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Wondering what else in your home is using more energy than it should? Grab a Kill A Watt Electricity Usage Monitor and you will be able to tell exactly which appliances and devices in your home use the most electricity. Then, you can work on using those less often, or replace them with more efficient versions. There are so many ways to decrease your energy usage all winter long, and they don’t require a large investment or handyman status. And just think…with all the money you save, you can start thinking about that summer vacation!