5 Winter Tips for Home Energy

With sub-freezing temperatures upon us, the Mid-Atlantic region has entered the winter season.  We always receive a lot of questions during winter months when homeowners are coping with high utility bills, cold drafty rooms, and shortened daylight hours. So, we’ve compiled our top 5 tips for winter efficiency.

  1. Rubber weather sealing (Rope Caulking): Moldable like putty, self-stick rubber weather sealing is easily cut and molded into cracks and crevices in windows and door frames. Rubber weather sealing is cheap, effective, and has little impact on the aesthetic of your home.

  2. Adjust your temperature: Set your thermostat to a comfortable temperature (68°F) when you’re home, but use a programmable thermostat that allows for cooler temperatures during the day. The Department of Energy estimates you can save around 10% per year on your heating and cooling bills just by programming your thermostat. You won’t notice a difference in comfort, but you will see lower bills with little effort.

  3. Cover Drafty Windows: Adhere a clear, plastic sheet or film to the inside of your window frames during cold months. Make sure the plastic is tightly sealed to the frame to reduce cold air infiltration. Drapes or shades can also work wonders on a drafty window.

  4. Lower your Water Heater: Heating your water can account for 14% to 25% of your home energy use. By turning down the temperature of your water heater to 120°F (the warm setting) you can save energy and lower your winter bills.

  5. Insulate your pipes: Pipes typically burst when they reach about 20°F. Each year about 250,000 Americans have burst pipes that often cost a few thousand dollars to repair. Burst pipes often occur while you’re out of your home for an extended period (for example, over the holidays) and water is allowed to freeze within pipes. The solution is simple—insulate your pipes.Pipe insulation is inexpensive and can be installed at no cost through the Quick Home Energy Check-up program.

Bonus Tip (We got carried away)

Heat Pumps: Many homes in the Washington D.C.-Baltimore region have heat pumps. Heat pumps can be very costly during winter months because they are unable to generate enough heat at cold temperatures. When that happens, heat pumps use electrical power to create a dry, auxiliary heat. Electrically powered heat is way more expensive, to mitigate the issue, we have a few tips:

  • Only turn up temperature a couple of degrees at a time. Big jumps will use your auxiliary heat.

  • If you have a programmable thermostat, try to find out if the thermostat has adaptive recovery, which is smart enough to realize that it needs to raise the temperature gradually rather than all at once.

  • On the very coldest of days, look and see if emergency heat is running. If it is, consider turning it down a bit to save on money.