The following tips will save money and energy while staying comfortable during the cool fall and cold winter months. Many of these tips can be used on a daily basis to increase your savings; others are simple and inexpensive actions you can take to ensure maximum savings through the winter.
Take Advantage of Heat from the Sun
Open curtains on the south-facing windows during the day to allow sunlight to naturally heat the home, and close them at night to reduce the chill from cold windows.
Be certain to plant deciduous trees on the south facing side of the home, especially in proximity to windows. They will let the light and warmth in the windows during the winter and will shade the windows in the summer.
Cover Drafty Windows
Use a heavy-duty, clear plastic sheet on a frame or tape clear plastic film to the inside of window frames during the cold winter months. Make sure the plastic is sealed tightly to the frame to help reduce infiltration.
Install tight-fitting, insulating drapes or shades on windows that feel drafty after weatherizing.
Find out about other window treatments and coverings that can improve energy efficiency.
Adjust the Temperature
When you are home and awake, set the thermostat as low as is comfortable.
When you are asleep or out of the house, turn the thermostat back to save as much as 10% a year on your heating and cooling bills. A smart or programmable thermostat can make it easy to set back your temperature. But make sure the temperature is comfortable for pets!
If you have a heat pump, maintain a moderate setting or use a programmable thermostat specially designed for use with heat pumps.
Find and Seal Leaks
Seal air leaks around utility cut-throughs for pipes ("plumbing penetrations"), gaps around chimneys and recessed lights in insulated ceilings, and unfinished spaces behind cupboards and closets.
Find out how to detect air leaks.
Learn more about air sealing new and existing homes.
Add caulk or weatherstripping to seal air leaks around leaky doors and windows.
Find out how to select and apply the appropriate caulk and weatherstripping.
Maintain Your Heating Systems
Schedule routine service for home heating systems.
Replace furnace and heat pump filters once a month or as needed. Find out more about maintaining furnaces or boilers and heat pumps.
Regularly clean the flue vent of wood and pellet burning heaters and clean the inside of the appliance with a wire brush periodically to ensure that it is heating efficiently. Find other maintenance recommendations for wood- and pellet-burning appliances.
Reduce Heat Loss from the Fireplace
Keep the fireplace damper closed unless a fire is burning. Keeping the damper open is like keeping a window wide open during the winter; it allows warm air to go right up the chimney.
When using the fireplace, reduce heat loss by opening dampers in the bottom of the firebox (if provided) or open the nearest window slightly--approximately 1 inch--and close doors leading into the room. Lower the thermostat setting to between 50° and 55°F.
If the fireplace is never used, plug and seal the chimney flue.
Install tempered glass doors and a heat-air exchange system that blows warm air back into the room.
Check the seal on the fireplace flue damper and make it as snug as possible.
Purchase grates made of C-shaped metal tubes to draw cool room air into the fireplace and circulate warm air back into the room.
Add caulking around the fireplace hearth. Find out more techniques to improve your fireplace or wood-burning appliance's efficiency. Learn tips for safe and efficient fireplace installation and wood burning.
Lower Water Heating Costs
Keep the temperature of the water heater to the warm setting (120°F). This will not only save energy, it will also help avoid scalding.
Find other ideas for energy-efficient water heating.
Lower Holiday Lighting Costs
Use light-emitting diodes -- or "LED" -- holiday light strings to reduce the cost of decorating the home for the winter holidays.
Learn about the advantages and potential cost savings of LED holiday light strings.