By Donna Fowler
In Colorado it can go from an Indian summer to winter in a matter of a day or two. Best to plan for the change in season and save money in the process.
Shut down the draft
Drafty? You can save between 5 and 30 percent of your energy use by placing a rolled bath towel or rug under a drafty door.
Change your furnace filter
A dirty filter restricts airflow and increases energy demand, so mark your calendar to replace or clean your filter once a month.
You might want to consider switching to a permanent electrostatic filter, which will trap around 88 percent of the debris, as opposed to the 10 to 40 percent trapped by disposable fiberglass filters. They are much better at controlling bacteria, mold, viruses and pollen that cause illness and allergic reactions. They do cost between $50 to $1,000, but could be worth it, depending on your circumstances.
Run ceiling fans in reverse
You can cut your heating costs by as much as 10 percent, if your ceiling fan has a switch to reverse its motion. Running the fan clockwise will help warm the room by circulating the warm air pooled at the ceiling down into the room.
Drain your air conditioning and water lines
This has more to do with potentially saving yourself from expensive repairs down the road. Drain your air conditioner and make sure no excess water is pooled in the equipment. If your unit has a water shut-off valve, turn that off as well. (Also, avoid cold drafts by removing any window air conditioning units.)
Make sure any water hoses are drained and turn off exterior spigots.
It’s also a good idea to seal any water leaks around the house before the winter.
Install storm doors and windows
Storm doors can increase energy efficiency by 45 percent by sealing drafts and reducing air flow. Similarly, storm windows can make a huge difference when the cold wind starts blowing. Do make sure window is securely shut.
Tune up your heating system
You can save up to 5 percent of your heating costs by keeping your furnace clean, lubricated and properly adjusted. Many utilities offer free annual checkups by qualified technicians and some furnace manufacturers and dealers also offer free or discounted inspections.
Mind that thermostat
One of the surest ways to save money is to turn down the heat when you leave. Most households shell out 50 to 70 percent of their energy budgets on heating and cooling, so why pay for if there’s no one there?
For every degree you lower the thermostat during heating season, you’ll save between 1 and 3 percent of your heating bill. Make it even easier with a programmable thermostat.
Put up some plastic
For just a few dollars, pick up a window insulation kit at your local hardware or discount store. No need to worry about how it will look — properly installed window plastic is essentially invisible. Adding a buffer against drafts and having extra still air space can boost your home’s ability to hold heat.
Save even more by hiring a pro to install a high-tech “low-e” film directly to the window glass.
Caulking and weather stripping
Simple leaks can sap home energy efficiency by 5 to 30 percent so it pays to seal up gaps with caulking and weather stripping.
Take a close look at places where two different building materials meet, such as corners, around chimneys, where pipes or wires exit and along the foundation. Use the incense test: Careful to avoiding drapes and other flammables, move a lit stick along walls; where the smoke wavers, you have air sneaking in and heating or cooling sneaking out.
Or have someone on the outside blow a hair dryer around each window while you hold a lighted candle inside. If the candle flickers or goes out, you need to caulk or weather strip around the frame.
Insulate your pipes and maybe your water heater, too
You’ll pay less for hot water—and decrease the chance of them freezing—by insulating your pipes. If they, or your water heater, are warm to the touch they’re good candidates for insulation.
You can get pre-slit pipe foam at most hardware stores. Cut it to size and fasten in place with duct tape. Ideally, choose the insulation with the highest R-value practical, which is a measure of its heat-blocking power. Pipe insulation is often R-3 or a stronger R-7.
Turn down your water heater
This is not so much a winterizing suggestion as any everyday tip. You can reduce your water-heating costs by 6 to 10 percent by setting your conventional water heater at 120 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. They are often set by installers at 140 degrees but most households don’t need that much steam.
Boost your insulation
Insulation is one of the best ways to save energy and money at home. It can make a big difference to add more insulation between walls. You should make sure your attic floor and basement ceiling are well covered as well. Check out the DSIRE Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency® for possible reimbursement of a percentage of your costs for high-efficiency insulation.