It’s something that nobody wants to think about especially since we’re still getting to enjoy the last of summer’s glow, but winter is definitely coming! The season’s cold temperatures will certainly increase our energy use, and with it, our utility bills.
Before winter does arrive, take advantage of the fall’s temperate weather to make some changes to your house to reduce your energy consumption, save you some money, and not least of all, help the environment.
Here are some questions to ask yourself in order to best determine what you should do to your home:
Is your attic drafty? This area of a house is a major source of heat loss. Filling in the uninsulated space – ideally with eco-friendly rock wool or cellulose insulation – will effectively stem the heat loss.
How old is your furnace? A furnace older than 15 years likely operates with only a 55-60% efficiency, wasting you almost half of every dollar. If possible, change it for a condensing gas furnace with an efficiency of 90% or higher.
Did you change the air filter in your HVAC unit lately? It should be changed every few months to increase the efficiency of the unit, and particularly before the winter months.
How old are your windows? Older windows tend to be significant energy wasters. Consider replacing them with dual-pane windows. Their double layer of glass and the insulation between the panes will keep the heat in, saving you on energy bills.
What kind of light bulbs do you use? If you’re still using standard bulbs you’re wasting power. Replace them with LED and/or fluorescent bulbs to save on your power use.
Are your appliances energy-efficient? Washers and dryers in particular use a lot of power. Energy-efficient appliances are readily available today, and at reasonable prices.
When was your house insulated? Maybe it’s time to upgrade the insulation in your home, to better protect it against cold temperatures in the winter (as well as the sun’s hot rays in the summer).
Does your home have a programmable thermostat? Keeping the temperature low during the day when nobody’s home saves on energy. With a programmable thermostat set to lower the temperature at times when warm air is not that essential in the house, you don’t have to remember to turn the heat down every morning when rushing out to work.
Have you resisted buying ceiling fans? A ceiling fan will not only cool your home in the summer so your A/C is not overburdened, but if you change the direction of your ceiling fan for the winter, it will help to distribute the warmer air which always rises up in a house.
Does your fireplace have an effective damper? A burning fireplace can be a source of heat and comfort in the winter, but if the damper is left open when the fireplace is not in use, you might as well be throwing that heat and energy out the window. And if the damper is poorly sealed it will allow the warm air to escape all the time.
Looking to eliminate your energy bills altogether and substantially reduce your carbon footprint? Check into installing solar panels. According to Eco Alternative Energy, a solar system costs about $20,000 – $40,000, depending on the size of the system. Although a bit pricey, this investment will certainly repay for itself in a few years.
If you’re looking to make energy upgrades while remodeling your home, contact the Bedford Brooks team to find out how we can bring the perfect marriage of style and function to your home.