Stay sensibly warm this Winter
Winter is coming, and as usual a certain segment of the population will act as if this is a shocking and totally unexpected event. There are the folks who insist on wearing summer clothes and shorts until the first thunderstorm or truly frigid day, and there are the people who refuse to make any efforts at winterising their homes no matter what the weather reports tell them. But not preparing for winter can be costly, both in terms of the world’s energy use – of which you’re a bigger part than you realise – and in terms of your utility bills.
That’s because winter is the most expensive season when it comes to energy use. Keeping ourselves warm and comfortable during the cold months comes at a high cost – a cost you’re likely very familiar with from prior years’ heating bills. Here are some tips you can follow to make your home more energy efficient and reduce energy you use and pay for this winter.
Step One: Energy Saving with Infrastructure
Your house is a collection of systems and parts, moving and otherwise. Homes have been built to a variety of specifications and efficiencies; older homes tend to be less energy efficient, but even brand new homes often leave a lot to be desired in the arena of energy savings. Here are a few ‘big picture’ projects you can complete to make your home as efficiently warm as possible.
- Insulate. Do you know what’s inside your walls? If they’re hollow, your home isn’t nearly as energy efficient as it could be. And don’t forget your ceiling – almost 35% of a home’s heat is lost through the ceiling if the crawl or attic space isn’t insulated. Having insulation blown into your walls and crawlspaces can be pricey, but the saving you’ll enjoy – in the summer too, when it serves to keep the cool air inside – will more than pay for itself.
- Windows and Doors. If your windows and exterior doors are old, replacing them with double-paned energy efficient ones will have tremendous impact on your energy bill. If they’re relatively new, consider inspecting and re-caulking them. Even the most efficient and advanced windows in the world can’t do their job effectively if air is leaking out around the edges.
- Upgrade Heating and Cooling Systems. Possibly the most expensive item on the list, upgrading your old and wobbly central heat or air system can save you up to 40% on your energy bills. Newer models are incredibly efficient and allow you to program ‘zones’ in your home, allowing the rooms you use to be kept warmer while other areas are kept cooler, resulting in huge savings.
- Little Things. Hang thick curtains to block leaking air, put area rugs and runners over tile and wood floors, seal gaps under doors with draught excluders, and let sunshine in during the day as a natural source of both light and heat, and you will reduce your energy use and save money.
Step Two: Energy Saving with Behaviour
Once you’ve done what you can to the house itself, it’s time to consider the things you can do while you’re living your life that will have an impact on your energy footprint and your utility bills during the cold months.
Turn It Down, Put It On. Lowering your thermostat a few degrees and opting to wear another layer of clothes means you’re using less energy but staying just as comfortable.
Close It Off. Closing interior doors traps heat in rooms and makes it easier for your heating system to work its magic. If there are areas of your home you simply don’t use during the winter, consider creating a zone where the heat is set much lower in those areas.
Shorten The Shower. Taking a shorter shower can have a huge impact on your hot water bills. So can washing your clothes in cold water instead of hot unless specified on the label.
By following as many of these suggestions as possible, you can not only lower your energy footprint, which is good for the world, but your utility bills as well – which is good for you!