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Winter Energy Saving Tips for Your Home

Warmly Dressed Sitting by FireplaceThe easiest way to save energy in your home is to turn things off that you aren't using. Of course, there are many systems and appliances in your home that can’t be turned off in the winter. But they can be fine-tuned, maintained, programmed, and used intelligently to save energy. 

Sometimes dressing in style will save you money. Wearing an extra layer indoors, like a full-zip cardigan or hoodie, can help keep you warm and prevent costly thermostat adjustments (I’m looking into my crystal ball and seeing a new Carhartt or Lululemon garment in your immediate future). Here are some great winter energy saving tips for your home that will keep you warm, save you money, and look good. Ka-ching! 

Cost Free Energy Saving Tips 

Layer Clothing: Channel your inner Mr. Rogers and keep your favorite indoor full-zip fleece in the foyer ready for your arrival home…if you’re a true fan you’ll be wearing a red-knit cardigan. But you don’t have to be a true fan. Any warm garment will do. Even a hoodie. But we do recommend a full-zip garment, as pullovers and half-zips have a tendency to mess up your hair. You will keep warm, and won’t be tempted to turn up the setting on the thermostat. You might even take it down a notch. 

Good Morning Sunshine: Green Architecture includes strategically placing windows, walls, and roofs to capitalize on the solar gain in the winter, and take advantage of natural shade provided by foliage to block solar gain in the summer. It is an intelligent design. As a homeowner, you can tap into the same principle with just a flick of the wrist, a smart window curtain app, or a manual adjustment to window coverings. On sunny days open the curtains and blinds, especially on the south side of your home, and enjoy the cost saving benefit of natural solar gain. Window coverings also act as insulators. Close them at night, or when the sun isn’t shining as brightly, and let them help retain the heat in your home. 

Water Heater: Around 18% of your energy use goes to heating water for showers, laundry, and dishwashing. Many manufacturers set their water heaters to 140ºF. You can save a significant amount of money by lowering your water heater to 120ºF. The lower temp will also slow down mineral buildup and corrosion and protect your family from scalding temperatures. Be sure to check your dishwasher. Some have booster heaters, some do not. If your dishwasher does not have a booster heater it may require the water coming from the water heater to be 130ºF-140ºF for safe cleaning. 

Vents: You shouldn’t completely close the vents in the rooms of your home. But you can partially close vents in unused rooms. This will reduce the heat supplied to unused rooms, but keep the air circulating properly. Your home heating system was designed to function as a whole unit. If you completely close vents you run the risk of the HVAC system overworking to compensate, and actually, increase your energy use. 

Ceiling Fan Direction: In the winter ceiling fans should turn clockwise at a slow speed to create an updraft. This updraft will help move warm air trapped in the ceiling area back down to living spaces to keep everyone feeling warmer. You won’t reach for the thermostat app on your phone to increase the room temperature, thanks to a little old fashioned mechanical ingenuity (in the summertime ceiling fans should turn counterclockwise, to create a downdraft). 

Low Cost and Regular Maintenance

HVAC Maintenance: You will need to schedule regular HVAC system maintenance annually. This is not optional. The cost range is $75-$200 for an annual visit. It is necessary to keep your heating system and cooling system working properly and efficiently. You will also reduce the risk of an untimely breakdown by up to 95% which can prove very costly. Maintenance should be performed on your heating system once every year, and on your cooling system once every year. Routine maintenance will include cleaning, inspecting connections, motor operations, and thermostat. In the intervals, you will need to replace HVAC filters as recommended by the manufacturer or your service provider (most require filters to be changed every 30-90 days). 

Window & Door Insulation: Seal your windows and doors properly. Replace old window caulking. Inspect door sweeps and adjust them to keep out the draft (or replace them when worn out and no longer functioning properly). Door sweeps are relatively inexpensive and easy to install and adjust. Window caulking is a little more labor intensive. You might consider having it done by a professional. Hiring the job out can cost around $50-$70 per window. Window caulking can last up to five years, but the freezing weather of Iowa winters does take its toll. Window caulking should be checked regularly for cracking and signs of aging and replaced when deemed necessary. You will save money on your energy bill. 

Moderate Cost Upgrades 

Install Glass Fireplace Doors: The flue in your fireplace is designed to allow smoke and waste gasses to escape the home. The flue should always be open when you have a fire going, and closed when you don’t. Unfortunately, the traditional chimney design will also allow heated air to escape out an open flue (just like an open window). There is a solution. Install glass fireplace doors. This will keep the warm air inside your home where it belongs. Glass fireplace door installations cost an average of $600-$900. 

Thermostat IQ: The U.S. Department of Energy recommends setting your thermostat 7º to 10º lower when you are away or asleep. This can translate to a 10% savings on your heating bills. If you have a smart thermostat you can easily make this adjustment in the app, make the necessary adjustments on a programmable thermostat, or reset a manual thermostat at regular intervals (maybe it’s time to upgrade that manual thermostat…basic programmable thermostats were introduced well over a hundred years ago). The average cost range for a smart thermostat is $200-$500.

Coldwell Banker Hedges Realty is a locally owned and operated affiliate of Coldwell Banker Real Estate. We have been helping Midwesterners with all of their real estate needs since 1887. Our roots are strong. We look forward to helping you find the perfect home in the Cedar Rapids & Corridor area and establish your family roots in Iowa. Contact us today!

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