Make Your Home More Efficient to Enjoy Winter Warmth Without the High Heating Bills
One of the best things about cold winter days is coming home to your warm and cozy house. Of course, it takes a lot of energy to keep your house warm and cozy, and all that energy use can make utility bills skyrocket. To lower those bills without sacrificing comfort, take the time to winterize your home now.
Understand Your Energy Use
Before you can determine the best ways to make your home more efficient, it helps to know where your energy use is coming from. According to DIY Network, the average home’s energy use breaks down to about 44 percent for heating and cooling, 33 percent for lighting and other appliances, 14 percent for heating water, and 9 percent just to run your refrigerator. With this in mind, you can get an even more accurate understanding of where your energy goes by having an energy audit.
Furnace Maintenance is Critical
An energy audit will help you determine where you use the most energy and where problems lead to wasted energy. Because heating and cooling make up such a large portion of any home’s energy use, start by paying close attention to these systems. In the winter, be sure to give your furnace an inspection and tuneup, including replacing the filters. Keep in mind, though, that an old furnace won’t be nearly as efficient as newer ones, even with regular
maintenance. If you’ve had high heating bills the past few winters, you’ll likely be better off upgrading to a new furnace. According to HomeAdvisor, the national average cost to replace a furnace is anywhere between $2,541 and $6,120. However, the type of furnace you buy will make a difference in cost, with gas furnaces in the range of $2,000 to $10,000 and electric furnaces in the range of $1,000 to $6,000. Another factor to consider is the cost of installation, which averages between $500 and $2,000, depending on your location and the type of unit you purchase. Even with the tradeoff in efficiency over the years will be well worth the investment.
Keep Icy Air Out
Having an efficient furnace is the best way to lower your energy consumption in the winter. But as hard as your furnace works to produce warm air inside your home, the last thing you want is that hot air slipping out – while icy air comes in. A home energy audit will help you find spots where air leaks occur, especially windows, doorways, and any cracks in your home. Check all exterior doors to see if they need additional weatherstripping, and consider installing storm windows, which can reduce heat loss significantly. Doors and windows may be the most obvious spots where cold air comes in, but the overlooked spots like attics, basements, and crawl spaces are prime suspects for energy loss, too. Be sure to check all of these areas because many homes lack adequate insulation. If you aren’t sure where to start, Energy.gov provides a guide to insulating the most important parts of your home.
Think Efficiency Throughout Your Home Your furnace is the biggest culprit when it comes to winter energy use, but you can lower your bills even more by expanding your efficiency efforts throughout the home. For example, lighting
and appliances come right after heating and cooling as top energy hogs in our homes. If you think about how the days are darker in winter, you may be using more indoor lighting than you do in warmer months. To make up for this, consider switching to more efficient lighting, such as LED bulbs (Amazon offers a pack of them for under $10).
Our homes are designed for all of the systems to work together, which is why every energy swap you make adds up to a more efficient home overall. The benefits you will notice go way beyond lower bills. Anyone can appreciate a lower electric bill, but you’ll also be doing the Earth a favor and keeping your home toastier, too.