The fall chill is in the air and winter is right around the corner and while we may be excited for the season change, we are most definitely not excited about the hike in utility bills. In an effort to cut back on resource usage and save your pocketbook, we’ve provided six ways to be more energy efficient during the Fall/Winter months.
Dress the Windows
Ever put your hand on a window in fall or winter? Brrr, right? Windows, drafty or not, still allow the chill into your home. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, about 25% of annual heating and cooling costs are due to air leakage through windows. And we’re not even talking about older homes, which can eat up about 40% of energy costs.
Being an expert in treatments for the window, the top blind style we recommend to those looking to keep the chill out and cut back on utility costs are cellular blinds. Cellulars, also known as honeycomb shades, are designed to trap air within their pockets which will help insulate your windows. Since cellulars provide excellent insulation, choose a light filtering fabric or a top down bottom up lift if you like to have a light-filled room during the day.
Another style we recommend for cutting back on energy usage are soft treatments, like drapery or roman shades. Both add a “designer” look to your space while providing an additional layer of insulation from the cold. Drapery can be used alone or added to your blinds and shades to both accessorize the room and add an additional layer of protection from the cold. They also are a welcome addition to light filtering shades and/or blinds as these styles do not provide privacy at night. We consider roman shades to be an optimal choice for energy efficiency as they naturally insulate windows due to the liner option. Select roman shades even offer a thermal liner to boost your home's energy efficiency. In addition to conserving energy, drapery and roman shades come in a wide variety of colors, patterns and textures, offering you great style.
Fight the Draft
One of the most cost-effective ways to make a home more energy-efficient is to seal and insulate. Considering that heating your home is typically 42% of your utility costs, sealing and insulating is a quick fix to save big on your monthly bill. Many common repeat offenders appear in our homes when we are attempting to cut back costs and keep ourselves warm and comfortable.
A drafty fireplace can really cut into your energy budget. To make sure heat isn’t escaping up the chimney, keep the fireplace damper closed when not in use. We also suggest having the chimney professionally cleaned in the fall to ensure proper working order and to eliminate blockages that could lead to carbon monoxide leaking back into the home.
You might recall your mom lining the outside of the windows in the fall with clear plastic sheeting and putting up the storm windows to winterize your home. That choice of winterizing will work but for extra protection, seal drafty window edges and cracks with rope caulk and apply weather strips around doors to ensure a tight seal.
Attics can be one of the most troublesome areas considering that many attics are unheated, poorly insulated, and drafty. Checking the existing insulation is the first step towards prepping your home for the cooler months ahead. Insulation that is dirty, matted, discolored, or damp may indicate trouble areas that should be addressed before winter to prevent larger issues. You can also utilize the weather stripping you used to proof your doors to seal up the attic access panel and pull-down stairs or door.
Let in the Light
Utilizing natural sources of heat is a great way to prevent running the heater during the day. Opening the treatments on south facing windows during a sunny day allows heat from the sun’s rays into the home. Just make sure to close the shades and curtains at night to fight the chill.
Tamper with the Temp
Investing in a programmable thermostat can help with maintaining a set, steady temperature during both day and night. Setting the temperature in your home as low as possible, while staying comfortable, cuts back on utility costs and can save you about 2% of the heating bill per hour. Did you know that we sleep better in a cooler environment? According to the National Sleep Foundation, the ideal bedroom temperature is between 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit. By lowering the temperature at night and when you are not at home, you can save up to 10% a year on energy costs.
Go from Scalding to Soothing
Heating water for your home averages to around 18% of the energy used on a monthly basis. If you can run the water and it’s continually hot and never runs out, the thermostat is set too high. Setting it between 110-120 degrees Fahrenheit (43-49 degrees Celsius) will cut back on the overall bill and energy usage, too.
Circulate that Air
Sometimes it’s the little things that can make a world of difference. For homes with vaulted or tall ceilings, run the fan in a counter-clockwise direction. As we all know, heat rises. This little switch will aid in pushing the air out and back down to maintain a steadier temperature throughout your home.
For more tips to make your home warmer during the winter months, check out the US Department of Energy for additional ways to save energy and money. At the end of the day, making your home more energy efficient can be as easy or difficult as you would like it to be. Small changes can lead to big savings, for both your annual bill and the environment. Update your window treatments and try out some of our tips to make sure your home is nice and toasty for the holiday season.
About Katie Christopher
Katie Christopher is the in-house designer at Blindsgalore. Family owned & operated. Blindsgalore is the DIY-ers choice for the best selection and value in custom window coverings. Blindsgalore's goal is to make home improvement and decorating more affordable by providing easy access to the most comprehensive collection of custom made to order window treatments/window coverings and knowledgeable, friendly customer service professionals.