As the temperatures outside drop, our energy bills often rise. This doesn’t have to be the case. There are some simple ways you can keep your log home warm this winter without breaking the bank. Here are twelve tips to help you be both comfortable and energy efficient. Some you probably have heard before, but some you may have never thought about. Read on to find out more about Energy Savings.
Tip #1: Lower your thermostat
An easy way to reduce your heating costs this winter is to turn down your heat. Lowering your thermostat just one degree can save you up to 3% each month. Lowering the heat another degree will save you even more. If you house is empty during the daily work and school hours, consider dropping your thermostat down even lower during those times. You can bump it up once you return home, and you will still save a bundle.
You don’t want to try to remember to turn your thermostat down as you race out the door each morning? A programmable thermostat might be a good option. You can program these devices to increase or decrease the temperature at a certain time. Many thermostats will allow you to program more than one setting. For instance, you could set your thermostat to drop to 65 degrees at 8:00 AM, then program it to increase the temperature to 68 degrees at 5:00 PM, so your house will be warm when you arrive home. These devices start around $50 and are well worth the small expense.
Tip #2: Lower your water heater temperature
Most water heaters are factory pre-set at 140 degrees. Reducing the temperature by only 15 or 20 degrees will significantly lower your energy bill, and you probably won’t even feel the difference in the water temperature.
Another good idea is to purchase a water heater blanket, especially if your heater is an older model. These blankets can be found at any home improvement store for around $25. Not a lot to spend, especially when you consider that a blanket could take approximately 7% off of your heating bill.
Tip #3: Caulking and weather stripping
Before the cold weather hits, inspect the caulk between your logs and where the walls meet the floor and roof. This can be done as part of your Fall Maintenance routine. If you have areas that need attention, instill foam backer rod and then caulk over the foam to create a good, tight seal.
Use weather stripping around doors and windows to prevent cold air from leaking into your home. Weather stripping is inexpensive and easy to install. It often comes in a roll with an adhesive backing, allowing you to adhere the weather stripping all the way down or across a door or window frame in one easy application. There are many products and materials to choose from, including felt, plastic, and foam tape.
Tip #4: Plastic for your windows and towels for your doors
If you have an older home, another simple, inexpensive tip for keeping out the cold is to cover the windows of your home with plastic. You can purchase user-friendly kits at any home improvement store for less than $10, and, if applied correctly, the plastic is virtually invisible.
If you really don’t like the look of the plastic, you have options. You could simply close your blinds to hide the plastic. You could install the plastic sheathing only to windows that are less visible to visitors, such as in bedrooms, upstairs rooms, or basements. This method will not allow you to reap quite as much savings as you would if you installed the plastic to every window. However, you will still save some money, and every little bit helps!
You can keep the drafts from sneaking in under your doors by simply rolling up a towel and placing it on the floor against each exterior door. Or, if you would rather, you can purchase and install door sweeps. These are flat pieces of plastic, aluminum, or stainless steel, which are fitted with a strip of nylon, foam, or vinyl. Door sweeps are installed along the bottom of the interior side of an exterior door and act to fill the space between the door and threshold.
You can find door sweeps at any home store. They are relatively easy to install, inexpensive, and some can even be painted to match your door’s existing color.
Tip #5: Installing storm doors and windows
While this energy saving tip is not as quick or inexpensive as the ones previously mentioned, it will save you a great deal of money in the long run. If your home has single-pane windows, consider installing storm windows and doors. These products help seal drafts and reduce airflow while still letting natural, warming sunlight into your home. Installing storm doors and windows could save you up to 40% in heating costs, and some even qualify for a federal tax credit to cover much of the cost.
Another idea to consider is replacing your single-pane windows with good quality double-pane windows. These will reduce your heating and cooling costs significantly. As an added bonus, they’re easier to clean!
Tip #6: Wrap your pipes
Pay less for hot water! Especially if the pipes are located in unheated areas of your home, wrapping the pipes in foam insulation can save you a bundle on your energy bill. In addition, insulating your pipes can prevent them from freezing, which is both inconvenient and costly.
Pre-slit pipe foam can be found at most home improvement stores and is quite inexpensive. Simply cut to pipe foam to the desired length, wrap it around each pipe, and secure it with duct tape. Viola! Savings made easy!
Tip #7: Insulate the attic
Almost all attics have some sort of insulation, but is it enough? Take the time to check and make sure you have adequate insulation in your attic. Your insulation should be at least 7 inches deep, and at a rating of at least R38. If you find that your attic is not up to snuff, consider adding extra insulation now.
You will want to hire someone to do this job for you, as an insulation expert will know which insulation is right for your home. He or she will also have the proper equipment to do the job correctly and safely.
This tip does incur some up-front expenses, but it will be well worth the cost year-round.
Tip #8: Check your fireplace damper
Make sure the damper in your chimney is completely closed. An open damper can cause you to lose a significant amount of heat when the fireplace is not in use.
To close your damper, first make sure the fireplace is completely cool. Next, locate your chimney damper. The damper handle is usually located slightly right or left from the center top of the fireplace insert. Grasp the handle of the damper and pull it either right or left, depending on the damper’s initial position. You should see the damper move. Finally, use a flashlight to check the inside top of the damper to ensure it is closed completely.
This quick and easy step of keeping the damper closed when the fireplace is not in use, will make a noticeable, positive difference in your heating costs.
Tip #9: Reverse your ceiling fans
Running your ceiling fans may be something you only thing about doing on hot, summer days. However, reversing the direction your ceiling fans spin can cut your heating costs by up to 10%.
Ceiling fans typically run counter-clockwise, blowing down cool air into your home. Changing the direction of your ceiling fans’ rotation, causing them to turn in a clockwise motion, will actually pull the warm air away from the ceiling and down into your room. Each fan is equipped with a small switch, which is typically located on the fan blade housing apparatus. First, make sure the ceiling fan is OFF and the blades have stopped moving. Then, simply move the switch in the opposite direction, and you’ll feel warmer air blowing down in no time.
Tip #10: Let the sunlight in
Keep your curtains and/or blinds open during the day to allow the sun to naturally add heat to your home. Letting sunlight into your rooms also gives you the added advantage of Vitamin D, an essential vitamin we sometimes lack during the winter.
Close your curtains and/or blinds at night to help keep the warmth inside your home.
Tip #11: Use an energy monitor
You may choose to purchase a device, which calculates your household’s energy usage. Some can even estimate your monthly heating bill based on your recorded usage. Studies have shown that seeing the amount of energy they use is an effective way for consumers to significantly lower their energy consumption. Some of these products include the Onset U30, the TED (The Energy Detective), and the 1 Outlet Conserve Insight. While prices range from quite affordable to rather costly, an energy monitor could save you hundreds of dollars a year.
You can also take advantage of one of our other set of products that let you monitor and adjust items in your home from a distance.
Tip #12: Bundle up!
It ain’t summertime, folks. As much as you may hate to do it, donning socks or a sweater is a quick, easy, cost-effective (and, yes, painless!) way to conserve electricity and save money. Now, we’re not talking about pulling out the scarf and mittens. However, simply adding a layer of clothing will go along way to keeping you warm this winter without making your wallet suffer.
So, there you have it. Twelve tips to get you on the right path to energy efficiency this winter. Even if you choose to try only half of the ideas we’ve discussed, you’re likely to save yourself some money in the long run and help out the environment, too.
Do you have any tips you’d like to share? Write to us and let us know. If we like it, we’ll add it to our list and give you all the credit! Until next time, stay warm, stay safe, and think Spring!