As the weather begins to turn, we find ourselves busy preparing for the often-hectic holiday season. Halloween is just the first day requiring elaborate home decorations, but Thanksgiving dinner parties and festive light displays are just around the corner.
So step away from carving your pumpkin for a moment. Get started on these five proactive steps to ensure you maximize your energy savings — even when ice, snow and freezing temperatures begin to assault your home. And by improving efficiency, you’ll have that much more money in your pocket to use for gifts during the holidays.
1. Close the Gap
It’s only natural for gaps to occasionally appear between door and window frames regardless of the age of your home. That’s because, as the temperature and moisture levels change outside, wooden materials will expand with the heat and contract with the cold. Whether it’s a window or door, all that expensive heat can slip through the cracks.
Check your home’s exterior doors and windows for cold air leaks. Sometimes it’s easy enough to feel the draft, but the simplest way to be sure is to move a lit candle around the door or window frame. If there is a draft, you’ll see the candle flame move toward you and the interior of your home.
Now that you’ve identified any drafts, install foam or solid weatherstripping to any problematic window or door frames. If you note strong drafts near a door’s lower edge, consider installing a door sweep or storm door. At the end of the day, closing any gaps where hot air can escape can translate to big energy savings.
2. Replace Furnace Filters
Install a new furnace filter to ensure your system is running at its optimal energy efficiency. To determine the size and variety of filter you’ll need, consult your owner’s manual, or — if you didn’t receive one — search your furnace model serial number online to find one.
This is a simple, quick fix. Standard flat fiberglass filters can run as little as $1, while higher-tech, energy-efficient varieties run closer to $30. It’s also best practice to replace the filter monthly during the coldest winter months to maximize energy efficiency, which will, in turn, translate to energy savings on your utility bill.
3. Reverse Ceiling Fans for Winter
Did you know that you can save money on energy bills by simply switching ceiling fans from counter-clockwise to a clockwise rotation? This method requires that you run the fan on a slow setting, but it will effectively push the cold air to the ceiling and keep warmer air down lower where it can be enjoyed by your family. This easy solution can save you a couple degrees on your thermostat setting which will translate to direct cost savings when the monthly energy bill arrives.
4. Clean Your Gutters
It’s essential to clear your gutters of any debris after the leaves fall. If you don’t, water can be trapped against the house and cause damage that will hurt the energy efficiency of your home and could lead to even more immediate problems such as an ice dam or flooding.
Grab a ladder, take proper safety precautions and get up on the roof to clear any debris in your gutters. It’s a straightforward chore that’s best to get out of the way as soon as the leaves finish falling. Wait, and it becomes all too easy to forget. As they say — out of sight, out of mind.
5. Turn off Exterior Faucets
Just like cleaning your gutters, turning off exterior faucets is more of a proactive measure to avoid disaster rather than a direct energy savings tip. But — if anything — that only makes it more important. If pipes freeze, they’ll likely burst as the water expands when it turns to ice, and that could lead to flooding and major issues.
Disconnect any outdoor hoses you might have and drain exterior faucets completely. If your home was built before 2000, it likely wasn’t constructed with frost-proof faucets. In that case, you’ll need to turn off the shut-off valve inside your home.