Utility costs notoriously rise during winter and summer months, when extreme temperatures force a home's heating and cooling systems to work in overdrive to keep the space comfortable. In Georgia, the coldest temperatures of the year usually emerge around January or February, meaning there are steps you can take now to reduce heating costs, while also keeping your family snug and warm.
Seal Up Leaks
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, one-third of a home's heat leaks out through drafts in doors in windows.
Fortunately, it's fairly easy to find most of these larger leaks and seal them to drive costs down. Thoroughly check any seams in your doors or windows for small cracks and use caulk to seal the area. Utilize weatherstripping for moving pieces such as your doors or windows, and caulk for openings and cracks that will not be disturbed, such as door frames.
Close Your Doors
The quickest way to drive energy costs down is to ensure that your home is not working overtime to heat spaces where your family isn't gathering. Walk through your home and ensure that all closet doors are closed tightly. Your garage door should also remain shut throughout the winter months unless you are coming in or leaving, as heat can easily escape through this space.
Curtains offer far more than just privacy in the winter months, helping minimize heat loss by up to 10% according to the U.S. Department of Energy. During the daytime, keep all drapes open to let natural sunlight in to warm your home. At night, shut the curtains to help keep drafts at bay. During cooler months, consider going with dark, thicker drapes for a greater level of insulation.
Unveil Your Vents
Air from your furnace goes wasted if your vents are obstructed by a couch, bed or other large piece of furniture. Make sure that your vents are uncovered through the winter months so that air can circulate properly. Vents should also be dusted regularly, to ensure that dust doesn't obstruct the flow of warm air.
Stock Your Fridge
Cool items help keep other items cool, meaning that your fridge and freezer exercise the greatest level of energy efficiency when they are completely full.
This means that the appliance doesn't have to expend energy cooling unused spaces. If you aren't a fan of bulk grocery shopping, use cold water gallons to help fill up the shelves of your fridge.
Reverse Ceiling Fans
While most people avoid ceiling fan use in winter, these fixtures can also be utilized to help circulate heat through your home. Flip the directional switch on your ceiling fans so that the blades spin clockwise, and ensure that they are running at a low speed. As warm air rises, the ceiling fan will help distribute it throughout the room.
Mind Your Thermostat
For every degree you lower your thermostat, you'll save 1 percent on your energy bill. During the winter months, experiment with a tolerable temperature, and consider adding an extra layer of clothing instead of constantly cranking your heat up. If this isn't a workable option, turn the thermostat down a few degrees at night when family members are under blankets and quilts to sleep. Smart thermostats-we have a separate blog on these posted here-can help do the legwork for you, monitoring and adjusting the temperature in the home to keep it comfortable, despite the weather outside.
While these quick tricks can help you drive costs down, it is important to have a professional energy audit performed on your home to ensure that your heating and air unit are running as efficiently as possible, and air leaks and poor insulation aren't driving up your heating bill.