1. Consider a Smart Thermostat
Smart thermostats, like the Nest learning thermostat, can optimize the energy efficiency of your home year round. The average American household spends between 50 and 70 percent of their energy budget on heating. Therefore, it makes sense to make smart changes to minimize the painful financial effects of this big energy drain.
You can program a smart thermostat to keep your home at a specific temperature at particular times or, if it's a learning thermostat, it will get to know your routines and preferences. In this case, the thermostat will automatically adjust to keep you at a comfortable temperature and will turn itself down to an appropriate level when you're asleep or not at home. Considering that for every degree you lower the thermostat, you save up to 3 percent of energy costs, installing a smart thermostat is just good sense.
2. Use Draft Excluders
Draft excluders are an easy and obvious choice to keep your home's interior warm and maintain an energy-efficient home all winter. The U.S Department of Energy states that households can waste up to 30 percent of their energy consumption due to drafty doors.
Buy a premade draft excluder or get creative and make your own from tough, thick fabric and high-quality toy stuffing, coupled with some weightier filling, such as kitty litter. Even an old towel rolled up and placed against the bottom of the door will work. Simply take your chosen excluder and place it against the bottom of exterior doors where drafts sneak in.
3. Install Storm Doors & Windows
While installing storm doors and windows can be a time-consuming project, it offers big energy savings. If you're not a DIY type of person, you can always hire a professional to tackle the installation. By investing in storm doors and windows, you can improve the wintertime energy efficiency of your home by up to 45 percent.
4. Mind the Gaps
The smallest of gaps around windows, door frames, and other joints is stealing heated air, and therefore money, from your pocket. Check all seals around windows and window frames as well as the condition of any sealant or weather stripping. If you see damage, replace the caulking or weather stripping.
In addition, check any point where wires or pipes enter or exit your home and around joints, including the chimney and in corners. To help you identify heat-sucking areas in your home, light an incense stick and move it along the walls and windows, or anywhere else that you suspect there may be a gap. If you notice the smoke start to waver, you've found a leak where hot air is escaping or cold air is rushing in.
5. Insulate Your Home
One of the most effective ways to winterize your home is to ensure it's properly insulated. Where possible, insert plenty of high-quality insulation between walls and in large gaps around window frames. Additionally, add a dense layer of insulation to your attic space to prevent heat escaping through your roof.
6. Insulate the Pipes, Too
When you're winterizing, don't forget the pipes. It may seem like a small thing, but you actually waste a lot of your home's energy via hot water pipes.
If pipes aren't insulated, heat escapes into the colder atmosphere, meaning your water heater has to work harder and expend significantly more energy to maintain the desired water temperature. That's wasted money. Instead, simply purchase precut pipe foam and install it over your pipes.
7. Clean Up Your Act
To get the most out of your heating system, keep it clean. Make sure you change your furnace filter every three months. Also, keep radiators, baseboard heaters, and heating vents free of dust, grime, and debris. Dirty heaters, filters, and vents force your heating system to work harder to warm your home.
8. Monitor Your Energy Consumption
A smart meter, an energy monitor, or even the app that accompanies your home automation system, smart plugs, all let you see how much energy your home is using. Some let you see in great detail precisely where energy is going while others simply tell you how much energy your home is using in general in real time. Further, many can generate weekly and monthly reports.
By monitoring your usage, you understand where there are significant energy draws, you're more likely to conserve energy, and, therefore, use less. You'll also be actively looking for energy waste.
9. Be Sensible & Dress for the Season
You may love wearing your favorite shorts and tee year-round; it's not very practical, and it means you have to raise the temperature on the thermostat to stay warm. Instead, find the thickest, snuggliest sweater and wear it. Cozy up under a blanket while you're binge watching on Netflix, and get yourself some thick, chunky slipper socks. That way, you can lower the thermostat and save significantly on your bill.
10. Use a Chimney Balloon
If your home has an old chimney that isn't used, it's sucking heat right out of your home. Install a chimney balloon. This offers substantial energy savings, preventing heated air from escaping as it tries to rise.