There are many ways to conserve energy in the cold winter months. This not only helps our budget, but also the environment.
1. Make sure that registers and air ducts are not blocked by furniture or other debris. This can cause poor heat circulation and the furnace to work harder, using more electricity and creating extra wear to your furnace. Not only will your electric or gas bill be higher, you could end up with the extra expense of a costly furnace repair.
2. Have a technician do a furnace inspection and oil in the fall. The furnace will run smoother and any minor problems can be detected. The furnace filter should be replaced at this time, and then every month as this will reduce the amount of dust in your ducts throughout the house.
3. Regularly vacuum the air flow and registers as this will create a better airflow and aid in keeping the filter in the furnace cleaner. The ducts throughout the house can be cleaned by a professional company to help create a more dust free environment, and may help the furnace operate more efficiently.
4. Turn down the thermostat during the day to about 68 degrees or less when you wont be home, and at night when you are sleeping. There are thermostats now with timers that can be set to come on before you get home, and before you get up in the morning.
5. Widows should be checked for gaps and loose panes. If replacing windows is not an option the windows can be caulked, have weather stripping applied, or the entire window may be covered with a sheet of plastic from the kits that are sold now. Heavy drapes can also cut down on cold air leaks. During the day while open they let in light, and by closing them in the evening it prevents cold air leaks.
6. Doors should be checked for gaps and air leaks. Weather stripping can be applied all around the doorways. If this is an older home there may be large gaps along the bottom of the doors. There are rubber strips that can be attached along the bottom, and draft stops that lie behind the door. These can also be made from a recycled shirt sleeve, and stuffed with old socks cut into small pieces. They may be laundered when they become soiled.
7. If there is no insulation in the side walls of the house, consider using large heavy pieces of furniture along the walls to help block cold air. A quilt can be hung on the wall as a wall hanging and will also help prevent cold leaks.
8. Check all the unused outlets for tiny air leaks. Safety plugs can be used in these, and foam gaskets can be placed behind all plugs and switches to insulate against small amounts of air.
9. Close registers in all unused rooms, and make sure they are completely open in rooms that are used so there is an unobstructed flow.
10. Unplug all unused appliances such as computers and phone chargers as they still use small amounts of electric when off.
For more energy saving tips from appliances & electronics to heating & cooling, see www.energysavers.gov, there you can also find blogs and other resources.