10 Simple Ways to Make Your House Energy Efficient for Winter
Making a house energy-efficient is important, and that is not different for your cabin or cottage. Obviously, you can make major improvement such as spray foaming your attic or crawl space, but there are also a lot of small and medium range improvements you can make that can bring down your energy costs. We have put together are 10 favorite, simple ways to make your place more energy-efficient.
Keep the Air Hydrated
With properly hydrated air as opposed to a house without humidifiers, you can save 20-30% on your energy costs. Get out those humidifiers, and check out our post on the best humidifiers, which also includes a lot of valuable information on which ones to pick and how to use them around the place properly.
Cover Unused Vents
Have a guest room or den that you are not using? Cover vents in those rooms with vent covers. Also use an under the door draft stopper to seal the room properly. These are great on all external doors as well. This is a simple way to save energy if you have rooms that are unused… simply reduce the area that you are heating.
Insulate Hot Water Flow Pipes
To start, insulate the pipes that provide hot water from your hot water heater. Get some high quality pipe insulation, that is not only good for keeping those pipes efficient, but is also great for keeping pipes from freezing. Check the setting on your hot water heater as well, try it out at about 120ºF from the default setting, and it could save you a bundle. If you need a little more heat, you can gradually increase the setting.
Eliminate Heat Leaks
This is an ongoing process, as you should always should be looking for ways to make your cabin better insulated, and there are some simple steps you can make here without breaking the bank. First, get yourself an instant-read infrared thermometer. These are not expensive, and great for cooking as well! On the first cold day go everywhere, and find the cold spots. Next, get yourself from heavy duty window film and seal off those problem windows. Outlets are notorious leakers, and you can get some outlet sealers as well to stop leaks there.
Maintain Your Furnace
You really should have your furnace cleaned once a year, but that is not always practical. You can do a few things to keep it in good shape, however. First, look up your make and model and see if there are cleaning instructions available online. At very least, give it a thorough cleaning with the shop vac. Follow all recommended safety procedures. Next, make sure to get all the furnace filters that you will need for the winter. Err on the side of caution here and get more than you need. If you have a whole house humidifier, clean it out completely and get a new filter there as well.
Get those Ceiling Fans Running Clockwise
Ceiling fans are for winter, too. There should be a switch that you can flip that will reverse your fans, and make sure they are going clockwise in the winter.
Get a Programmable Thermostat
Ok, this one can cost a little at first, but for a cabin owner, it won’t take you long before it pays off. We love the Nest Thermostat, but there are many “smart” thermostats out there that are excellent. When not there, you can keep the place at around 55ºF and start heating a few hours before you head there. It isn’t just good because you can access it remotely, it actually learns your habits and will work on lowering your energy usage.
Add Some Insulation
Check the insulation in your attic and crawl spaces. Are they at or below the floor joists, you should add some good old-fashioned pink stuff. Take a few pics on your mobile phone, head down to the local hardware and stock up. It is cheap, and all you need to do is roll it out over the existing stuff.
Manage Your Refrigerator’s Energy Use
Check the make and model of your refrigerator, and see if it has an energy-saving mode. You might have it on the very cold setting, but you can go up to the 30’s and still keep food safe. Also, you can turn off your ice maker, and go back to ice trays. For a cabin or cottage that isn’t in use all the time, the ice maker can be an energy drainer. Also, you should probably have a number of gallons of distilled water on hand in case of an emergency, and when you are not home, put these in the fridge. A full fridge works much less to stay cool.
Use The Sun
Even on the coldest of winter days you probably have a great, free energy source – the sun. Open all the blinds and pull back the curtains when the sun comes out. A sunny winter day can provide a lot of solar power and help your furnace run efficiently. Even in rooms that you are not using it can warm up furniture, floors, etc., and help your furnace maintain heat.
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Also published on Medium.