Did you know that, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, the typical family spends about $1,900 on utility bills? And that, each year, the carbon dioxide released by the electricity and fossil fuels needed for a single home is more than two average-sized cars? The good news is that there are some fairly simple steps you can take when going green and heating your home to save energy, save money, and save the environment as well.
Invest in a programmable thermostat
For as low as $30, you can install a programmable thermostat in your home that will allow you to go green and heat your home at the same time. You can save 10% a year on your heating and cooling bills by lowering the thermostat by 10-15 degrees for the eight hours you’re at work. Programmable thermostats can save up to six different temperature settings per day, making it easy to set for when you wake up, when you leave for work, when you return home, or when you go to bed. There are many types of programmable thermostats on the market. Consumer Reports has some tips on what to look for when making a purchase.
Make sure your home is properly sealed and insulated
Sealing and insulating the outer shell of your home — the walls, ceiling, floors, and windows — can boost it’s energy efficiency and save you up to 10% on your annual energy bill. Check your home for leaks and gaps that need caulking. Energy Star has a Do-It-Yourself Guide to help you get started. Insulate your water heater with a pre-cut jacket or blanket that runs for around $20 and has an insulating value of at least R-8, but be sure to leave the air intake vent uncovered. Wrapping your hot water pipes with insulation as well will reduce heat loss, and even help conserve water by delivering hot water to your faucet or shower head quicker.
Weatherize your windows
Windows can account for 10-25% of your heating bill, so it pays to take care of them! Try installing tight-fitting, insulating weather shades on your windows and keep them closed at night and open during the day. Keeping your windows clean will let in the winter sun. Also try taping a clear plastic film over the inside of window frames during the winter, making sure it’s sealed tightly. This will help keep the heat in the house and the green in your pocket.
Do a home energy audit
Do your own home energy audit, keeping a checklist as you walk through the house of all the problem areas you find. Check your home for leaks – around electrical outlets, window frames, base boards, weather stripping, etc. Make sure the weather stripping and caulking are in good condition. If you have access to the attic, make sure there are no openings in the insulation and that the vents are not blocked. Check the filters in your heating equipment and clean or replace them if necessary. If you’re not comfortable doing an audit on your own, consider hiring a professional to do it for you.