Start Winter Energy Savings Small

Many little changes can add up to big savings

As winter approaches many people start to think about ways to save energy during the frigid winter months.  For many in the winter, not running the heat isn't really an option due to freezing tempuratures.  There is also simple human comfort that needs to be considered.  

There are many things that can be done to save energy during the winter.  This article will focus on some of the easier and cheaper methods to achieve this energy savings.  At the end of the article will be some ideas that may require a more substanstial investment towards energy savings.

One of the easiest things to do to save energy in the winter is lower the tempurature of the thermostat, or get a programmable thermostat to adjust the tempurature while everyone is away or sleeping.  Dropping the thermostat tempurature by 10-15 degrees for just 8 hours can have a savings of 5% - 15% annually[792].  Even keeping the tempurature a couple degrees lower while people are home can also add to the saveings.  

Is the tempurature normally set at 72 or 74 degrees?  Try dropping the 'normal' tempurature setting down to 68 or 70, maybe even 65 degrees.  A good way to make 65 degrees much more comfortable in winter is to raise the humidity in the house.  Not only will it feel warmer, the residence should have less dry skin.  Be sure not to make the humidity too high that water or mold problems could occur.

Houses in winter snow
Credit: Tatar @ PhotoXpress

Getting more involved in your winter energy savnigs

Window shades can also add to the winter energy savings.  Any shades will help, but some types of shades are going to be better than others.  The cellular, pleated or honeycomb ones are a good choice, those three terms are used for the same type of shades, or at least very simular.  The dead air space inside the cells acts as added insulation for the windows.

Don't just pull the blinds in the fall and hibernate till spring though.  Besides the poor health effects this will have, it will also hurt your winter energy savings.  At least open the blinds that the sun comes through during the day so the house may benefit from solar gain.  Close the blinds again in the evening to reduce heat loss throught the windows.

Another way to accrue some energy savings would be to create an airlock around the entry door.  I'm not talking spaceship going to the moon airlock, but something similar.  Without an airlock type entry when the door opens to go in or out all the cold air comes rushing right into the house.  Would there be a way to use a mud room or closed in porch as a buffer zone or airlock?  Preferably an enclosed non conditioned space that would then lead into the house.  Using using something like those will keep the cold air from rushing into the house causing the heat to have to run to heat up that cold air.

Woman entering door
Credit: jeancliclac @ PhotoXpress

Getting to work on saving energy

Insulating shades and airlocks are only going to do so much for saving energy, another benefit can be gained by sealing air leaks into the house.  A good way to test for air leaks is to use the candle test.  On a windy day take a lit candle and hold it near windows, doors, vents, outlets, any place that could have a leak.  If the flame flickers and dances it means there's air movement and probably a leak nearby, if it stands straight there is no leak[793].

Get yourself a can of expanding foam insulation, a well known brand name for one is 'Great Stuff' by DOW Chemical and start filling the leaks.  In some instances it may be easier to fill the cracks from the outside than from the inside.

Even double or triple pane windows can benefit from having plastic added to the inside or outside of them during winter months.  The kits are not expensive and fairly easy to install.  If you plan to put them on the outside of the window, be sure to install them on a warmer day so the tape holds.

More involved winter energy saving ideas

Here are some additional ideas to implement for additional winter energy savings.  These will require more time and money than most of the previously listed suggestions.

  • Add insulation
  • Replace outdated windows and doors
  • Replace furnace with more energy efficient one
  • Insulate pipes and ducts
  • Plant a row of evergreen trees to block any prevailing wind, this is a long term idea

Love to hear your suggestions

This list is by no means inclusive of all the winter energy savings ideas.  I'd love to hear what other people have to suggest for saving energy, please add it in the comments.