17

Dec
2013
Posted in:
Homeowner resources

3 tips for keeping an energy-efficient house this winter

Falling temperatures don’t have to send your energy costs skyward. Use these simple energy conservation techniques to keep your home comfortable and penny-wise all winter long.

Cozy living room

1. Cover (or replace) drafty windows. If you don’t have low-e, high-performance windows, you may have a not-so-slow leak in your heating budget—as much as 25% of your bill.

What’s the difference? The multi-pane glass and low-emissivity coatings used in energy-efficient windows help keep heat inside your home in winter and solar gain out in summer.

What you’ll need: If new windows aren’t an option, consider installing insulating window coverings and/or heavy-duty plastic sheeting to reduce drafts. Check the weather-stripping around your doors and windows for leaks each year and—even with the most energy-efficient windows—it’s a good idea to open your curtains when the sun shines and close them when it gets dark.

2. Change your light bulbs. As you may have heard, incandescent light bulbs will soon be phased out in the US. Why not make the switch to CFL or LED now, so you can start enjoying the energy savings? Choosing a greener light source is particularly sensible in dark winter months, when we spend more time indoors anyway.

How much can it affect your energy bill? Each ENERGY STAR® certified bulb uses 75% less energy than an incandescent bulb, saving you approximately $40 to $135 in energy costs over its lifetime (see source). By the way, you can save energy by switching your holiday lights, too.

What you’ll need: Just the bulbs! If you’re having trouble deciding whether you want CFL or LED lights, the ENERGY STAR website has some useful tools to help. Use the Product Finder to shop and compare specific CFL and LED bulb brands by type and feature. Or, use this Excel-based Savings Calculator to compare costs.

3. Don’t heat your home when you’re not there (or awake) to enjoy it. You may have heard that it takes more energy to reheat your home after letting it cool down than it would to maintain a constant temperature. Not true! Unless you have a heat pump, steam heat or radiant floor heating, turning the thermostat down at night and while you’re out during the day could lower your energy costs 20 to 75%.

How low should you go? Ultimately, it’s a matter of balancing cost savings and personal comfort. Check your furnace manufacturer’s recommendations, but a good rule of thumb is to set your thermostat to 68 degrees while you’re at home and 55 degrees at night. Use this calculator to estimate your savings at a range of different temperatures, keeping in mind that lowering your indoor temperature too much could put your water pipes at risk of freezing. Even 55 degrees may be too low in extreme weather or with poor insulation. Learn more »

What you’ll need: A programmable thermostat is a must. Set it to raise the temperature just before you wake up and again just before you get home in the evenings, and you may not even notice the difference. If you’re used to keeping your home at a balmy 79 or 80 degrees, consider lowering the temperature gradually.

P.S. Well-maintained and right-sized HVAC equipment wouldn’t hurt, either!

Energy-efficient homes are a top priority for homebuyers and for all of us at Richmond American Homes. Read our home energy FAQ or visit our energy efficiency section to learn about the energy-saving features available in our homes.