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The first signs of frost let us know that cold weather will be here soon. As winter approaches, now is a good time to improve your home’s energy efficiency.
There are several no-cost or low-cost improvements you can make to your home to reduce your winter heating bills.
To extend the life of your furnace and air conditioner, for example, replace furnace and air-conditioning filters on a monthly basis. If you have pets in your home, you may want to check your filters more often.
To help prevent drafts, caulk between the walls and the window and door frames, install weather-stripping on doors to reduce drafts. Add storm windows or use plastic film kits to cover single-pane windows.
Do not underestimate the value of natural sunlight. During cold weather, keep curtains or other window coverings open on south-facing windows and doors during the day to allow the sun to warm the house. Remember to close drapes and shades in the evening to help keep the cold out.
Modify your own behaviour, too, to help reduce energy costs. For example, turn all lights and electronics off when they are not in use. Lower the setting on your water heater to 120 degrees. Use cold water only when doing laundry, and only do full loads. Also, only use the dishwasher and dryer when you have full loads.
Finally, if it’s time to buy a large, durable appliance, make sure you choose Energy Star-qualified products.
Energy-efficient appliances include high-efficiency furnaces, air-conditioners or heat pumps, clothes dryers with moisture sensors, and clothes washers and dishwashers designed to use less water.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 46 percent of a homeowner’s utility bill typically goes to heating and cooling the home. Remember to adjust the thermostat to the lowest setting you are comfortable with; also lower the heat setting at night or during the day when no one is home. Also, consider a programmable thermostat, which increase or decrease heat or air-conditioning according to your preferred settings.
Simply turning back the temperature during the day while you are at work can save an estimated 10 percent on home heating bills, according to the Department of Energy.
Jane Proctor is Trimble County’s Cooperative Extension agent for family and consumer services. Source: Jennifer Hunter, Extension Specialist for Family Finance, University of Kentucky, College of Agriculture.