In the New Year, many of us are setting resolutions to save money, or be friendlier to the environment. One great way to do both is to cut down on your energy usage. But with temperatures dropping below freezing, it can be hard to cut down on your usage without feeling the effects.
In honor of National Cut your Energy Costs day, here are a few low hassle ways to cut down on your energy costs while still keeping warm this winter.
1. Bundle up while cranking it down. If you’re serious about saving money, this should be the first step. Instead of cranking up the heat, put on a winter sweater or sweatshirt, thick socks, and set your thermostat as low as comfortable. Put some throw blankets on the couch, break out your flannel sheets and use a thick winter duvet on your bed.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, you can save 10 percent on your winter heating bills by adjusting your thermostat 10 to 15 degrees cooler while you’re at work. Save even more by turning the thermostat down while you’re sleeping. Even a few degrees can make a difference on your monthly bill.
2. Insulate. If you’re willing to spend a little extra money, consider re-insulating your attic. Because heat rises, attics are guilty of leaking lots of warm air out of your house. By insulating it properly, you could save 20 to 30 percent off your monthly bill, according to the Department of Energy. Exterior wall sockets and switches can also be sneaky sources of air leaks, due to the holes in the wall behind the outlet’s plates. Just unscrew the cover, block the gap with a fitted insulation pad, and screw it back up again. Just make sure you turn your circuit breaker off before doing so to avoid electrocuting yourself.
3. Keep your furnace clean. The dirtier your furnace, the harder it has to work. Cleaning your furnace at least every two months could increase its efficiency by up to 50 percent.
4. Don’t let the cold air in. Worn down weather stripping around doors or windows will create drafts, and let the warm air out of the house, causing the furnace to work harder. Replace any outdated or warn weather stripping and fill in cracks around windows and door frames with caulk. Close the chimney dampers. Keep the dampers shut on your fireplace to keep warm air from escaping through the chimney. If you never use your fireplace, plug and seal the chimney flue.
5. Turn down the temperature on the water heater. According to the Department of Energy, water heating accounts for about 18 percent of the energy consumed in your home. Turn down your water heating setting to 120 degrees to save money (and potentially yourself from scalding hot water.)
6. Upgrade your lightbulbs: Save $75 per year by swapping out your lightbulbs with Energy Star Lightbulbs. Install a dimmer on your most used lights as well. Dimmers let you set the brightness in a room to suit your needs, setting the mood and saving electricity.
7. Use smart power strips: Some electronic gadgets never truly power off, even when you think they’re off. Instead, they sit in standby mode using a trickle of power that can add up over devices and time. Plug these electronics into a power strip, and turn the power strip off when you leave for the day or go to bed at night.