Is Your Home Ready For Winter?

As the cold weather approaches, now is a good time to look at your home and see what areas you can cut down on energy waste.

Here is a list of energy-saving tips that you can do yourself to help save money in the winter on your heating bills.

  • Duck the Draft(s) – The U.S. Department of Energy reports that drafts can waste 5%-30% of your energy use.  The draft snake is an easy fix for this.  You can make your own very easily by just placing a rolled bath towel under the drafty door.  They are also available to purchase,
  • Changing Your Furnace Filters – During the heating season it is important to replace or clean your furnace filters once a month.  When they are dirty they can restrict airflow and make your furnace work harder.  There are also permanent filters out there that are available, but at a higher cost.  Also, if your furnace needs replaced this season, make sure to take advantage of the federal tax credit for new high-efficiency furnaces.
  • Run Ceiling Fans in Reverse – the warm air near the ceiling is circulated back down into your living space and can cut your heating costs as much as 10%!
  • Winterize Your A/C and Water LInes – for a window a/c unit, drain any hoses and pipes, and make sure no water is pooled inside it and store it away for the winter.  If it has water shutoff valve, turn that off.  Turn off exterior water spigots and seal any water leaks you may have.  If you need a new air conditioner, check for a residential energy credit from the IRS.
  • Install Storm Doors and Windows – this can increase your energy efficiency by 45%!
  • Tune-Up Your Furnace – this can also reduce your energy use.  Many utilities offer free annual checkups, but you need to call early before they get backed up.  Also, some furnace manufacturers and dealers also offer this service for free or discounted.  Also, if a new one is necessary, don’t forget to check for federal tax credits!
  • Programmable Thermostat – for those times that you are regularly gone from your home, you can turn it down.  Why pay for what no one is using?
  • Window Insulation Kit – add a shield against drafts and it can help hold in the heat.  Once again, if you have old windows and are considering investing in new efficient windows, you could qualify for a federal tax credit.
  • Caulking and weather-stripping – Even the most simple leak can cost you 5%-30% a year in energy efficiency.  Look closely in areas such as corners, around the chimney, and where wires and pipes exit and along the foundation.
  • Boost Your Insulation and Insulate Your Pipes – adding more insulation between the walls and making sure your attic floor and basement ceiling are well covered is a good way to save energy and money.  Insulating your pipes can decrease the chance of them freezing.  You can get pre-slit pipe foam at most hardware stores.  Both of these could also be eligible for tax credits when using highly efficient insulation.
  • Sealing those Ducts – Studies have shown 10% to 30% of heated (or cooled) air in an average system escapes from your ducts.  Having them properly sealed can save up to $140 per year, according to the American Solar Energy Society.  Properly sealed ducts can also protect you better against mold and dust.

According to the Farmer’s Almanac, we are looking at a rough winter!  Illinois is predicted to be “biting cold and snowy”.  Let’s make sure we are ready for Old Man Winter.