Fall and Winter Energy Saving Tips

Have you started backing off on your air conditioning? Maybe you’ve even pulled out a jacket to wear at night. That means it’s fall, and winter is not far behind. Prep your home for colder weather with these energy saving tips that keep you comfortable without increasing your energy bill.


Use Natural Light


Use Natural Light In textUse the sun’s heat to warm your home on sunny days by opening the window coverings of your south- and west-facing windows. You can warm rooms significantly with natural light even when the days are shorter, and you’ll get the maximum benefit of this tip if you keep your windows clean. Just be sure to close the blinds after sunset to keep drafts away.



Reverse Ceiling Fans


Reverse Ceiling Fans In TextMost of us will turn back the clock for the winter months, which is also a reminder to change your smoke alarm batteries. While you have the step stool out, change the direction of your ceiling fans, too. In colder months, ceiling fans should rotate clockwise. You know that hot air rises. By reversing the fan’s direction, you draw colder floor air to the ceiling, mixing it with warmer air and sending it back down your walls. This trick allows you to turn down the thermostat a bit to give your heating unit a break, but keep fans on the lowest setting or too much moving air can chill you instead.



Service Your System


Service Your System In TextWaiting to service your heating system after your unit breaks down is no fun. Think ahead and have your furnace or boiler professionally cleaned now. You’ll benefit from a thorough safety check as well. At the least, save energy by replacing your furnace filter every month as dirty filters force your unit to work harder. While doing fall cleanup outside, use a broom to dust off leaves and grass clippings around your HVAC equipment to help it run more efficiently.



Prep the Fireplace


Prep the Fireplace In TextIf you have a fireplace that isn’t used, seal it off to keep heat from escaping. For working fireplaces, keep the damper closed when the fire is out to avoid warm air going out the chimney. To push heat away from the chimney, the Department of Energy suggests opening the bottom dampers in the firebox or open a nearby window an inch and close the door to the room. When you throw a log on and snuggle up, don’t forget to lower the thermostat to 55°F.



Program Your Thermostat


Program Your Thermostat In TextAn electronic programmable thermostat saves energy by allowing you to change the temperature of your home throughout the day. These thermostats can store multiple daily settings and allow you to override them when needed. You can get up to 10 percent savings on heating costs by setting the thermostat 10-15 degrees lower while you are away or sleeping. Program the thermostat to heat up your home 30 minutes before you arrive or wake and you won’t sacrifice your comfort.


The crispness in the air that you’ve noticed is a sure sign the fun of fall and winter is on its way. By taking a few energy saving steps now, you’ll be set to keep your heating bill down and keep up the cozy in your home.


Understanding the Importance of Insulation

Heating and cooling your home makes up about 48% of your energy bill, according to The Energy Department. Of course, these costs are determined by the climate in which you live, the construction of your house, and your family’s energy needs. That being said, having properly installed energy efficient insulation can have a large impact on your monthly bill. Before making any decisions to change what you have, though, it’s important to know how insulation works and the different types available for today’s homes.



Preventing Heat Flow


Preventing Heat FlowHeat flows from warm to cold spaces. In the winter, for instance, heat moves from your living space to unheated areas like your attic, garage, or basement before escaping to the outdoors. This loss of heat is backfilled by your heating system working overtime. The same is true for the warmer months, when hot air flows into your house. Because it’s cooler it causes your air conditioner to run steadily. By insulating your ceilings, walls, attic space and floors, you create a resistance to this natural heat transfer and decrease the strain on your heating and cooling systems.



Establishing Standards


Establishing StandardsThe effectiveness of insulation is measured by what’s called the R-value, or its ability to resist heat transfer (R for resistance). The higher the R-value, the better. Unfortunately, many homes don’t meet the minimum R-value standard for energy efficiency set by the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC).



Choosing the Right Insulation for Energy Savings


Blankets, loose-fill, foam, rigid fiber, and reflective insulation are among the various options for residential buildings. The type of insulation you choose depends on where you need it. To guide you, The Department of Energy makes these recommendations:


Choosing the Right Insulation for Energy Savings 1Space: Unfinished walls, floors and ceilings
Type of insulation: Blankets (rolls or batts). This insulation is made from mineral fibers, such as fiberglass, or rock wool. It can easily be installed by a motivated homeowner. Plus, it’s one of the least expensive types of insulation.



Choosing the Right Insulation for Energy Savings 2Space: Unfinished attic floor, odd-shaped wall cavities, or around obstructions such as pipes and wires
Type of insulation: Spray foam or foam-in-place insulation. Usually made of polyisocyanurate or polyurethane, foam insulation is flexible enough for tight or irregularly shaped spaces. It also has a high R-value for its relatively thin structure. This insulation comes in two forms, open-cell or closed-cell. Closed-cell has the greater R-value, and better resists moisture and air leakage. Open-cell is lighter and less expensive to install. However, open-cell should not be used below the ground where it risks absorbing moisture.



Choosing the Right Insulation for Energy Savings 3Space: Exterior walls, basement or crawl spaces
Type of insulation: Rigid foam insulation. Similar to the spray form, it’s made of polyisocyanurate or polyurethane and has a high R-value – up to two times greater than most other insulating materials. This foam is best for exterior sheathing and basement walls because it provides strong thermal resistance, and it reduces heat conduction through the structure of your home.


Filling in the gaps with the right insulation will go a long way in saving you money on ever-rising energy costs.


Save Energy While Cooking Thanksgiving Dinner

Holiday cooking is just around the corner, which means you’ll be spending more time and electricity than usual in the kitchen. Keep your Thanksgiving energy costs down by following these simple cooking tips.



Preparation Before Preheating


In-Text PreparationDo food washing, slicing, and final prep before turning on burners or preheating the oven. An empty hot burner or oven simply wastes energy, and many meat and vegetable dishes do not need a preheated stove. Lessen cooking time by defrosting foods fully in the refrigerator, but be sure to keep items covered during the process because excess moisture will force the appliance to work harder.



Save Energy with the Stovetop


In-Text Save EnergyBe sure to scrub your burners and drip pans before cooking, to help them reflect heat more effectively to your cookware. Match pots to the appropriate burner size. According to the energy.gov website, if you put a 6-inch pan on an 8-inch burner, more than 40% of your heat is wasted. To help pots heat faster, don’t use larger sizes for smaller food amounts, and go for flat-bottomed cookware to get maximum contact with the burner. Copper-bottomed pans heat quickly, and cast iron pots can be used at a lower temperature setting than other metals. Whatever you use, keep the lids on while cooking to reduce heat loss and cooking time.



Make Room in the Oven


In-Text Make RoomFor side dishes, baking with ceramic or glass dishes allows you to set the oven temperature 25 degrees lower and will cook food just as quickly. If you have several dishes, put them in together to save time. Free moving air in the oven allows the appliance to run more efficiently, so stagger multiple items on upper and lower foil-free racks. Avoid unnecessary overcooking by using a food thermometer, but keep the door shut as much as possible (a 25-degree temp loss every time you open!) and use the oven light instead to check for readiness.



Choose Cooking Alternatives


In-Text Cooking AlternativesSmaller dishes can cook just as nicely in a microwave or toaster oven and save you up to two-thirds the energy of a full-size oven. A slow cooker uses considerably less wattage compared to an oven, so think about dishes that could be started early and left alone while you hustle around the kitchen. Pressure cookers are another useful item to reduce cooking time because the steam pressure cooks food at a higher temperature.



Time to Eat


In-Text Time to EatWith an electric stove, you can turn off the oven or stove top 5-10 minutes early, and the residual heat will keep cooking the food.  After pulling out your food, use the oven’s residual heat to reheat your guests’ dishes and keep them warm until you’re ready to gather everyone to the table.


Besides being thankful for delicious food that you can share with family, you can up the gratitude by taking easy steps to save energy during Thanksgiving and the rest of the holiday season.