When notes of pumpkin spice help warm the slightest morning chill, it’s a good time to consider making a few easy changes to keep your home cozy and energy efficient.
“As we head into the colder months and begin to spend more time inside, it’s the perfect time to make just a few adjustments to save energy and keep your home comfortable,” said Edith Garcia, Senior Program Manager for UniSource’s Energy Efficiency Programs.
Here are five steps that cost very little but can add up to savings.
1. Lower the thermostat.
The U.S. Department of Energy recommends setting your thermostat to 68 degrees in the winter or to the level that’s comfortable and safe for your family. At a minimum, it helps to lower the temperature overnight, and you won’t even have to remember to do that if you install a smart thermostat. These devices can “learn” your preferred heating and cooling schedule, sense occupancy and can be controlled remotely using any smart device. On average, smart thermostats can save homeowners up to 12 percent on heating bills and 15 percent on cooling bills.
2. Change filters regularly.
It’s easier to remember to change your air filter in the summer, when your air conditioning is running relentlessly. But it’s actually one of the best things homeowners can do year-round. Clogged filters restrict airflow, forcing the unit to work harder and use more energy, regardless of the season.
3. Find drafts, seal leaks.
There are all sorts of ways drafts can enter your home, from cracks and joints found around doors, to windows, electrical outlets, piping, recessed lights and cabinets. To locate a potential leak, try burning an incense stick to see if the smoke wavers or is drawn out of your home. If you have an idea about where the leak might by, try holding a damp hand near that area. If you find leaks, seal them with caulk, weatherstripping, door sweeps or expandable spray foam. It’s also a good idea to use window coverings to help keep cold drafts at bay.
4. Make conscious choices in the kitchen.
Fall is a great time for entertaining family and friends at gatherings built around football games or seasonal holidays. If you’re cooking up something in the oven, just peek through the window to check your progress rather than opening the door, which leads to heat loss and higher energy use. Cover pans for faster cooking. Go ahead and feel virtuous about the dishwasher, since it uses half the energy of washing dishes by hand.
5. Adjust your ceiling fans.
Look for a switch that will change the blade rotation direction to clockwise. That will help you feel warmer without adjusting the thermostat, since as warm air rises, the clockwise blades push warm air downward and pull cool air upward.
Low-income customers who may be unable to afford energy efficiency improvements may qualify to receive some free upgrades through our Weatherization Assistance program in partnership with local agencies.