Winter in Chicago is no joke. Less daylight and freezing cold temperatures mean many of us will be spending more time in our homes. That means higher energy bills.
Additionally, a recent report released by the Energy Information Administration predicts that home heating costs this winter will rise by nearly 30% for households using natural gas and by 6% for homes warmed with electricity.
Check out these energy-saving tips that will help keep you warm and save you money.
1. Keep the Heat Inside
One of the best ways to reduce your home’s energy bills is to make sure the heat you’re producing stays inside. Here’s how to do that.
- Close your fireplace damper: An open fireplace damper can raise your overall energy consumption by 30%. Tightly close your damper whenever your fireplace isn’t in use.
- Weather-strip your doors and windows. Fixing air leaks with weather-stripping or caulking can save you, on average, 7.5% on your energy bill.
- Insulate your home’s outlets. Air loss from uninsulated outlets is a major culprit of energy loss. Foam gaskets or foam insulation around your outlets can help reduce overall energy loss in your home.
2. Let Your Heating System Do Its Job
Your furnace has one job, to heat your home. Remove any obstacles that might stand in the way of your heating system working reliably and efficiently.
- Clean and maintain your heating system yearly: Your HVAC system should be checked annually by a professional. Experts recommend scheduling this maintenance every fall. Additionally, make sure you’re replacing your furnace filter every 90 days.
- Don’t block vents: Not only do blocked supply vents stop warm air from circulating throughout your home, but they can also cause damage to your HVAC’s heat exchanger. Move furniture and rugs away from supply vents to increase your home’s energy efficiency.
3. Change Your Lighting Habits
Adjusting what you use to light your home and how you control those lights can positively affect your energy usage.
- Keep holiday lights on a timer: Research has shown that in the U.S. Christmas lights consume more electricity than entire countries do in a year. Using a timer to turn your lights on at nightfall and off before you go to bed can lower your personal energy costs.
- Use LED bulbs: LED Christmas lights not only require less energy than incandescent bulbs, they last longer. Switching to LED bulbs this holiday season can help your utility bill and the environment.
4. Get Smart About Heating
Smart home upgrades can automate your home’s energy use saving you time and money.
- Install a smart thermostat: Smart heating and cooling systems can save users up to 50% of their energy consumption according to the article An In-Depth View into Smart Home Statistics. Check out our recommendations in our blog, Best Smart Home Upgrades.
- Lower the temperature during the day: Consider lowering your home’s thermostat during the day when everyone is out of the house. “Lowering your thermostat by 10-15 degrees for eight hours can reduce your heating bill by 5-15%,” according to Constellation, an Exelon company. A programmable smart thermostat can make these adjustments for you.
- Use nature to your advantage: Simply opening the shades during the day to let the sun warm your home, and closing drapes at night to insulate against the cold can help reduce your home’s energy consumption.
Small changes can have a big impact on your energy bills this winter.
Check out 5 Ways to Winterize Your Home Right Now for even more ways to protect your home against Chicago’s harsh winters.