Ask the expert

Prep Your Home for Wintery Weather

Colder temperatures are here and people across the country are cranking up the thermostat and getting ready for the winter to come. Did you know that the average family spends $2000 on utility bills each year, and nearly half of that amount goes to heating and cooling your home? Now is prime time to make sure that your home is ready for the cold temperatures ahead. Check out these energy saving tips from the experts at the U.S. EPA’s ENERGY STAR program, and get ready to enjoy the chilly weather in energy efficient comfort. 

ENERGY STAR’s Top Eight Tips to Save Energy this Fall 

Girl in blue hat in winter

1.)    Use a programmable thermostat: Program your thermostat to match your schedule. To maximize savings without sacrificing comfort, program the thermostat to lower the heat by 8 degrees Fahrenheit or more when you’re away from home or asleep, and you can save about $180 per year.

2.)    Seal leaks and insulate: Did you know that 9 out of 10 homes in the U.S are under insulated? Hidden gaps and cracks in a home can add up to as much airflow as an open window and cause your heating system to work harder and use more energy. Sealing and insulating can improve your home “envelope”—the outer walls, ceiling, windows and floors—which will make your home more comfortable and improve the efficiency of your heating system by as much as 20 percent. You can save up to $200 a year by sealing and insulating with ENERGY STAR. A perfect place to start is in your attic. 

3.)    Keep your air filters clean: Check your heating and cooling system’s air filter every month. If the filter looks dirty, change it. At minimum, change the filter every three months. This simple change will help your system work at maximum efficiency—lowering your energy bills and helping your family maintain better indoor air quality.

4.)    Tune up your HVAC equipment yearly: Just as a tune-up for your car can improve your gas mileage, a yearly tune-up of your heating and cooling system can improve efficiency and comfort. Learn more here.

5.)    Install a door sweep: Door sweeps–or weather stops for garage doors–seal the gap between the bottom of the door and threshold, preventing cold air from coming in and warm air from escaping.

6.)    Close your fireplace damper: Fireplace dampers eliminate drafts by sealing your fireplace shut when you’re not using it. Consider using a fireplace “balloon” to make the seal even tighter.

7.)    Change a Light: With shorter days and longer nights, many families will turn on more lighting at this time of year. But if you are still using inefficient light bulbs, you are wasting energy and your money. Select ENERGY STAR certified LED bulbs for lighting that uses 90 percent less energy than a standard incandescent, and lasts at least 15 times longer.

8.)    Look for the ENERGY STAR: If your HVAC equipment is more than 10 years old consider replacing it with a unit that has earned the ENERGY STAR. Depending on where you live, replacing your old heating and cooling system with ENERGY STAR certified equipment can cut your annual energy bill by more than $160.

Photo - Brittney Gordon

Brittney Gordon-Williams is a member of the communications team for EPA’s ENERGY STAR program.