Minnesota is notorious for its brutally cold winters. Despite reaching single-digit temperatures on a nightly basis during the cold season, Minnesotans have some of the lowest electricity and natural gas expenses in the country. Still, it would always be great to lower your wintertime utility bills. Try using these ideas to cut back on your household’s energy costs this winter.
Limit Your Use of Decorations
Irrespective of religion, most American households celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas. Decorating is an essential part of many family traditions during the holiday season. Although you shouldn’t completely avoid decorating in favor of lower utility bills, you can try limiting your use of decorations that use electricity.
If you can’t completely eliminate your affinity for electric-powered decorations, limit your daily use of festive lights. Since manually turning off these lights can get annoying, consider plugging them into timers that automatically control their display time. Timers are great for families that don’t want to lose the magic of Christmas decorations while saving money on utility bills.
Cover Your Home’s Windows
Few houses completely block out drafts. Even if you don’t notice them, there are probably hundreds of tiny cracks in your home where air flows through. Rather than painstakingly hunting down these defects, covering up your windows during winter is an effective strategy for cutting back on energy expenditures.
You can reap major energy savings this winter by using makeshift window coverings. You can use clear plastic sheets to cover your windows. Make sure to stretch these sheets across the entire frame and not just the windowpane.
Although it’s often used for packaging shipped goods, another way to cover your property’s windows is with bubble wrap. When using bubble wrap, cut sheets to fit your windowpanes. While you’ll need to use adhesives to keep plastic sheets in place, you won’t need that strategy for bubble wrap.
Use a spray bottle to dampen your windowpanes before applying bubble wrap. You don’t need much water, either. Many conservationists report that using water is sufficient to keep bubble wrap stuck to windows all winter. Besides, placing adhesives directly on windowpanes can leave you with a big cleanup project once you take these homemade insulators down.
Yet another way to cover your windows is with drapes, shades, or blinds. For maximum energy-saving effects, combine one of the two insulation tips above with this strategy.
Uncover Your Windows During Daytime
The sun is undoubtedly essential for life on earth. It can also prove helpful for heating your house during the winter.
Thanks to the greenhouse effect, the radiant heat from sunlight gets trapped inside your residence after entering through windows. Best of all, this heat will still penetrate through the bubble wrap or heavy-duty plastic sheets over your windows.
To save as much energy as possible, open your drapes or blinds after the sun rises and close them at sunset. Consider leaving them closed during heavily overcast skies or major thunderstorms.
Set Back the Thermostat During the Day
Although it might seem beneficial to turn your home’s heater off while you’re away, this is never a good idea. Turning your heat off completely places lots of stress on your HVAC system once you turn it back on. It also costs more energy to initially heat your house than to maintain its warmth.
Before going to sleep, set your thermostat back 10 to 15 degrees. Even though this is a substantial change, you probably won’t notice the difference before falling asleep. The U.S. Department of Energy also recommends lowering your home’s temperature 10 to 15 degrees while away from it during the day. According to the Department of Energy, setting your house’s temperature back this far for just eight hours a day can cut annual energy costs by 10%.
Lower Your Water Heater’s Setting
Most modern water heaters can store water between 120 degrees and 180 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything below 120 degrees can encourage bacteria to grow, which can cause health problems if consumed. Typically, homeowners set their water heaters to 140 degrees.
If you haven’t manually changed your water heater’s temperature, it’s time to turn the temperature down to 120 degrees. Since 140-degree water can cause scalding, consider leaving your water heater at 120 degrees all year. This will save your household even more money going forward.
Try to Find Leaks Around Problem Areas
As mentioned earlier, properties have dozens of gaps that let in cold air during the winter months. While there’s no sense in finding all of these gaps, sealing up gaps around windows, doors, pipes, fireplaces, and electrical outlets is well worth the effort.
Light a candle, turn on a portable humidifier, or use some other source of water vapor or smoke to find leaks. After shutting off your HVAC system and fans and closing windows and doors, slowly wave your vapor or smoke source across walls throughout your house. Whenever the smoke or vapor moves, you’ve found a leak.
Use caulk to seal these areas. You’ll do a better job if you seal leaks from outdoors and indoors alike. A caulk gun and a tube of caulk are very affordable. Caulking equipment can also come in handy in the future.
Protect Your Plumbing From the Cold Winter Weather
Although hot water flows through pipes quickly, the cold Minnesota weather can substantially cool your hot water supply as it flows through plumbing. Wrap your plumbing in insulation to minimize heat loss from your house’s hot water supply.
While you’re at it, buy an insulating jacket for your water heater. Fortunately, you won’t have to settle for an industrial, unwelcoming water heater jacket. You can find suitable styles of water heater insulators online or in home improvement stores.
Invest in Door Sweeps
Doors tend to bring lots of cold air into your home during the winter. To keep your residence more comfortable during this season, buy door sweeps for your doors. Install them in all of your doors, not just the one you use most frequently.
You should also consider purchasing weather stripping. Weather stripping, which is typically made of the same material as door sweeps, has an adhesive backing and conveniently sticks to the top and sides of your doors. Installing weather stripping and door sweeps won’t take more than a few minutes. Plus, it’s pretty cheap.
Have a Professional HVAC Contractor Service Your System
Although the aforementioned energy conservation methods work quite well, these aren’t the only ways to save money this winter. Hiring a professional HVAC company like Liberty Comfort Systems to perform HVAC system maintenance in your Warrenton, VA, home is a great way to reduce your energy expenditures during the winter.
At your scheduled appointment, one of our licensed technicians will inspect your heating system for deficiencies. We’ll also clean all of its components, which will improve efficiency and save you money. Scheduled maintenance will help you prevent future repair needs as well.
Count on us at Liberty Comfort Systems for your seasonal heating tune-up needs in Warrenton. Our professionals supply a full range of heating and cooling installation, repair, and maintenance services. We also clean air ducts and improve indoor air quality. Call us today to learn more.