In many parts of the country, winter weather leads to higher energy bills. The cost of heating a home is significant, potentially to the point of busting budgets. As a result, figuring out how to save money heating your apartment or house is a common priority.
Fortunately, there are ways to save energy during winter without sacrificing comfort. Here are ten tips to get you started if you’re trying to figure out how to save energy at home during the winter.
10 Tips to Save Energy at Home During the Winter
1. Add Insulation
When it comes to heating efficiency tips, adding insulation to your attic if your current levels are low is essential. By adding insulation, you keep the warmth created by your heating system inside.
When you redo or add more attic insulation, choose a solution with a higher R-value, as that insulation is more efficient. You can mix types if you currently have blown-in insulation, which may lower the cost since you can sometimes avoid removal.
2. Seal Air Leaks
One of the simplest ways to cut heating costs is sealing air leaks. Drafts around doors and windows let hot air escape your home, putting more strain on your heating system and leading to a higher bill.
Sealing air leaks is especially critical when heating a basement in winter. Check around windows and doors, examine where the framing meets the foundation, and check spots where wiring and plumbing come in from the foundation.
In many cases, caulk, weather stripping, or expandable foam can plug any air leaks. Choose the option that makes the most sense based on the size of the gap and its location.
3. Clean Your Filters
When the filter is clogged up with dust and debris, your heating solution has to work harder, leading to a higher bill. As a result, cleaning or replacing your HVAC system filters is a great place to start if you need to know how to save electricity during winter and want low-cost options.
4. Check Your Vents
Ensuring any warm-air registers or vents aren’t blocked by furniture makes heating your home more efficient. Additionally, closing off vents or registers in rooms you don’t use and shutting the doors lets you heat less of your home, which can reduce costs.
5. Install a Smart Thermostat
If you’re looking for the most efficient way to heat your home, installing a smart thermostat makes a difference. You can program it to adjust the temperature at specific moments during the day. For example, you can lower the temperature while you’re away at work and schedule it to rise right before you arrive home. That way, you are heating less while your house is empty.
6. Use Your Ceiling Fans
Ceiling fans have a mode that pushes warm air down instead of cooling your space. Flip the switch to change the spin direction and run your ceiling fans on the lowest setting to help keep your home or apartment warmer and reduce energy costs.
7. Update Your Bedding and Get Throw Blankets
When you’re warmer, you can keep your heat setting lower, reducing energy use. As a result, if you need to figure out how to save on your heating bill in winter, updating your bedding and getting throw blankets for living areas makes a difference.
Flannel sheets, down comforters, and fleece throw blankets are great places to start. You can even add electric blankets in the mix, as they’re often more energy efficient than increasing the temperature in your house.
8. Install Solar Panels
If you’re interested in major home improvements to save energy, installing solar panels is worth considering. Solar panels allow you to generate electricity, reducing your bill. Plus, you can install a battery system to store electricity, giving you a power source even if there’s a utility outage.
9. Update Your Windows
Another higher-cost option that can help you cut heating costs is updating your windows. On average, heat gain and loss through your windows is responsible for 25 to 30 percent of your heating energy use. If you currently have older, single-pane windows, consider switching out to energy-efficient double-pane ones.
If you can’t afford new windows, applying temperature-controlling window films helps. Plus, these clear window films let you see out the window and preserve your curb appeal.
10. Get an Energy Audit
If you’re struggling to figure out how to cut heating costs and want to choose projects that’ll make the biggest difference, get an energy audit. Many utility companies offer them for free or for a small fee. Once scheduled, a professional will arrive and use various tools and equipment to assess the energy efficiency of your house. Then, they’ll provide clear recommendations based on what they discover, making it easier to figure out which home improvements may lead to the most significant savings.
Emergency Tips: What to Do If You Lose Heat During the Winter
While figuring out how to save energy during winter is essential, having a plan to stay warm if you lose heat is also a must. Here are some quick tips that you can use during an emergency.
Choose One Room and Stay Together
When your furnace breaks or your utilities go out, choosing a single room and gathering everyone together to stay warm makes a difference. More people lead to more body heat. Plus, you only have to figure out temporary home heating solutions for a single space.
Select a room that you can easily seal. For bedrooms, closing the door and blocking drafts with blankets and towels works well. If you want to gather in a living room or kitchen due to access to a heat source, close doors or block entrances by nailing up or hanging heavy blankets, curtains, or similar items over doorways.
Adjust Curtains and Blinds
Curtains and blinds can help keep heat inside. In the room you’re heating, position the blinds so that the upper edge of each slat points into the space to bring warm air inside and prevent heat loss. If sunlight is coming in those windows and producing warmth, keep your curtains open. If the area around the windows feels cold, block them with curtains.
Layering clothing helps contain body heat. Start by putting on an underlayer, such as cotton t-shirts that are fitted but not tight, and leggings, pantyhose, or tights. Follow that with two pairs of natural fiber socks, such as cotton or wool. Put on sweatpants and a sweatshirt or sweater next, along with a hat and gloves. If you’re still cold, add a winter coat or heavy blanket.
Use Alternative Heating Options
Several alternative home heating solutions don’t require your furnace or working utilities. Wood-burning fireplaces, wood stoves, and indoor-safe propane heaters can work if all of your utilities go out. If you only lose electricity but have a gas range, cooking meals that have long baking times let you have a warm meal, and the ambient heat from your kitchen also warms the space. If your heat is gas, but you have electricity, you can run the oven or plug in space heaters and electric blankets for warmth.