Although California's winters are relatively temperate compared to other parts of the county, it can still get cold. That means your utility bills can rise dramatically in the winter months when your heating system sees the highest use. Here are some energy saving tips that will save you money this winter as well as all year long.
- Seal windows and doors. Check for gaps around windows and door frames and reapply exterior calk or weather stripping if needed. Shrink-wrap or clear plastic films installed on windows are a quick and inexpensive way to keep heat in.
- Check your attic: The most common source of heat loss is your attic. Use foam or caulk to seal the small cracks. For larger leaks, you may need to install or replace insulation.
- Draw the curtains. Keep window curtains or blinds open on sunny days as this will help keep your home warm. As soon as the sun starts to set, close them to prevent heat from escaping. Consider investing in special insulated draperies and blinds for best effect.
- Reduce heat loss from fireplace. If your home has a fireplace that you aren’t using, be sure the flue is closed and install tempered glass doors to minimize heat loss. If you do use your fireplace, keep the damper closed when not in use to prevent heat from escaping up the chimney.
- Close Vents in Unused Rooms. If you have a room in your home that is largely unused, close off all the heating vents and shut the door to the room to avoid spending money heating a room that is not in use.
- Switch to energy-saving light bulbs. LED bulbs are expensive but are a good investment because they use much less electricity and last longer than traditional light bulbs. Many can last up to 50,000 hours - that’s 10 years with typical use!
- Install smart home technology. Some smart thermostats and lighting systems can adapt to your personal habits and preferences and automatically adjust your heating and lighting so that lights are turned off in rooms you are not using, and heating turned down when you leave the home for several hours.
- Lower your water heater settings. Most home hot water heaters come preprogrammed to run at temperatures that are much hotter than you need. Turning it down to 120 F can knock quite a bit off your heating bill.
- Wash clothes in cold. Using cold water in your washing machine is an effective way to reduce your energy consumption. In the dryer, use dryer balls to lift and separate your laundry while it's drying, reducing drying time by 25%.
- Unplug electronic devices when not in use. Even when turned off, many appliances continue to draw power. Your phone charger continues to use energy, even when your phone is no longer charging. These small costs can add up each month.
- Change the filters in your heating system and keep it well-maintained. Dirty filters can make a heating system work inefficiently which leads to higher heating costs. Ensure filters are clean and replace them every three months. Make sure you get a professional to look at it regularly to make sure it’s working properly.
Finally, if you’re in the process of renovating your home, there are more things you can do to ensure your energy bill stays manageable. Invest in appliances and electronics which meet the newest Energy Star® certification criteria. In particular, consider replacing your refrigerator first as it's one of the most energy-consuming appliances. The most common source of heat loss is poor quality insulation, especially from the attic. Choose insulation with a high R-value for your attic. Heat rises, and a well-insulated attic will help keep heat from escaping. If you’re getting ready to replace your windows, consider installing energy-efficient windows that have low-emissivity (low-E) glass, gas-filled glazing or insulated spacers. These upgrades can be costly, but it will increase the value of your home and decrease your heating costs.
Energy saving isn’t just a winter activity. Many of these tips will save you money year round. If you need help, I can put you in touch with service experts who can advise you on how to keep your home energy costs down.