Saving energy, and your money, all winter long

While colorful fall foliage may mark the changing seasons, it also ushers in winter’s deep freeze—and that means using more energy.

Sure, some increases are to be expected, but that doesn’t mean you can’t slow the upticks significantly by making your home more energy efficient now. Still, the most commonly used tricks—projects like caulking gaps around windows and door frames or covering windows in plastic—don’t actually result in the biggest savings.

So, what works better? We’ll be happy to tell you: Here are four improvements you can make in a weekend, allowing your family to stay warm all winter and save energy at the same time.

  1. Look for gaps around pipes, lighting fixtures, and cracks, then fill them with caulk or canned spray foam. If you have to pick which holes to address first, go for those on the ceiling—around canned lights, for example—because heat rises.
  2. Since the water heater is the second-highest source of energy use in your house, turn it down to a warm (120 degrees). And there’s an added bonus — in addition to saving money, you’ll avoid burning yourself!
  3. Get a professional tune-up for your heating system. Just like a car, HVAC  equipment will last longer and operate more efficiently if it’s properly maintained.

    According to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, most oil-fired systems should be tuned up and cleaned annually, gas-fired systems should be checked every two years, and heat pumps every two or three years.

    It’s not a quick fix by any means, but if you’re looking for a big project with a bigger payoff, consider installing a geothermal energy system and get your heat (and air conditioning) from the earth. In addition to using less energy you’ll be able to apply for rebates from your local electric co-op.

  4. And speaking of rebates…Although the clock is ticking before the end of 2019, there’s still time if you’ve upgraded the energy efficiency in your home this year and haven’t applied for any. Rebates exist for improvements to heat pumps, water heaters and pool pumps. Check out our rebates page for applications and instructions about how to submit them online.