Chicago winters are notoriously bitter and brutal. Our bones may ache from the cold, but our pockets bear the brunt of our discomfort as we shell out hundreds of dollars for heating expenses every year. Are you interested in outsmarting the cold and saving a pretty penny? Here are 8 winterizing tips that will help you save money on your energy bills this winter.
1. MAXIMIZE YOUR SUNLIGHT USE
Open the curtains or shutters on windows that receive direct sunlight. This allows the sun to contribute warmth to your home, reducing the amount of gas or electricity needed to run your heater or radiator. When the sun goes down, be sure to cover your windows back up to protect against the chill.
2. ADDRESS YOUR DRAFTY WINDOWS
Winterize your windows – especially old, drafty ones – with plastic to reduce cold air infiltration. If you still feel a draft once this is complete, you can install insulated drapes or shades.
Here’s an easy-to-follow videos that walks you through the installation process.
3. PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR THERMOSTAT
When you are home and awake, turn your thermostat down as low as is still comfortable. However, when you’re asleep or out of the house, the U.S. Department of Energy recommends turning your thermostat down 10-15 degrees. Doing this for at least 8 hours a day can help you save about 10% on yearly heating and cooling bills. Having a programmable thermostat makes this especially easy.
4. FILL IN THE GAPS
There are many places around your home that are potential cold air leaks. These spots can let cold air pour into your home, making your heating less efficient. Do a visual inspection of your home and look for visible gaps. If you find any, seal them using the applicable materials. The most notorious leaks can be found around doors and windows, plumbing cut-throughs, chimney gaps, and recessed lighting. For more information on how to conduct your own inspection, download our free “Cold Air Leaks Home Inspection Guide.”
5. SERVICE YOUR HEATING SYSTEM
Each kind of system requires a different kind of maintenance. If you have a furnace, make sure to clean the filters monthly and replace them regularly. Well maintained heating systems run more efficiently and can help you save money on your energy bill.
6. Lower Your Water Heater Temperature
Water heating makes up about 18% of your yearly energy costs. You can conserve energy and save money on your bill by turning your water heater’s temperature down to 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
7. USE YOUR FIREPLACE MORE EFFICIENTLY
The following tricks can help you reduce heat-loss from your fireplace:
- Unless a fire is burning, keep the damper closed.
- Install tempered glass doors that remain closed when fireplace is not in use.
- Install heat-air exchange system that blows warmed air back into the room.
- Make sure the damper is installed and sealed snugly.
- Caulk around the hearth.
- If you have no intention of using your fireplace, plug and seal the flue.
8. REDUCE YOUR HOLIDAY LIGHTING BILL
You can help reduce your energy consumption and lower your holiday lighting bill by using LED light strings.
If you want a comprehensive understanding of where your home is losing energy and money, you may want to invest in a home energy audit. An inspector will come to your home and look for signs of inefficiency. To learn more about home energy audits, watch this short video from the U.S. Department of Energy.