3 Strategies for Managing Your Home in the Winter

There are 2 key factors that disrupt home energy usage and personal habits during the winter months. The first is the colder weather. Improperly managing your home during the winter months may result in devastating consequences, including bursting water pipes, ice dams, and window condensation that causes mildew and sill rot.

While battling the cold tends to consume most of our attention when preparing for Jack Frost, the other factor to consider is that there is less sunlight available to provide natural lighting in your home, leading to more energy usage from electric lighting. Ready your home for winter and lower your energy costs with these 3 simple, inexpensive strategies.

1. Insulate Your Home:

There are many places where homes lose heat. The most significant areas are known collectively as the “Thermal Envelope,” composed of the combined surface of the floor, walls, and roof of your house. While this can make up approximately 50-60% of your heat loss, there is little the average homeowner can do to address this since the insulation of these areas was professionally installed and is mostly hidden.

Still, if you do have access to the attic or a basement and find exposed rafters, it is relatively inexpensive and simple to install fiberglass insulation or an eco-friendly alternative made from wool, hemp, recycled denim or soy.

There are even simpler areas that can be insulated, such as door thresholds and windows. These areas are in every home and are often associated with significant drafts that suck heat right out of a home. Using foam weather-stripping around exterior door frames, installing a door draft-guard at the bottom, and treating windows with plastic barrier insulation are very low-cost mitigation strategies. Storm doors and windows are also a great tool to provide an extra barrier of thermal protection and should be installed for the season.

While not commonly found in all homes, fireplace chimneys and built-in air conditioning units may also contribute to heat loss. For an infrequently used fireplace, a flue blocker may be a good solution as it is a tighter seal than the closed flue and is hidden from view. Another option is a fireplace blanket that hangs around the exterior of the fireplace to reduce updraft. If you happen to have one or more air conditioner units installed in the wall of your house, you might want to consider getting a custom cloth cover that slips over the front or back.

2. Desktop Computer:

Shutting down and unplugging your desktop when not in use (especially at night) is a great way to increase energy efficiency. Some people simply leave their computers in sleep mode – thinking this is enough. While it’s convenient to have the computer turn on with one touch, it is still drawing power and increasing your electricity costs in the process.

3. Phone Charger:

Modern smartphones charge much faster than older ones, so try charging your phone only during dinner or just a couple hours before bed and then turning it off for the night. (This will not only reduce electricity use; it will also preserve the life of your battery.)

4. Fans and Lamps:

Consider unplugging your fans, some lamps, and extra lights before going to bed – or in parts of your home you don’t often frequent. Most of us use only a fraction of our home in the evening, so start unplugging fans and additional light sources early and your electricity bill will thank you later.

5. Kitchen Appliances:

Your toaster, coffee maker, and blender do not need to be plugged in at all times. Once you finish making your meal or drink, simply unplug your device to stop drawing power. You will save money and also prevent accidents that could occur from these devices remaining energized.

6. Cable Boxes:

This can be coupled with unplugging your television when not in use to add even more to your energy savings.

7. Game Consoles:

When you’re not saving the world from an alien invasion with other people online, give your game console (and your energy bill) a break by pulling the plug.

8. Fish Tanks:

Just kidding! You can’t unplug your heater or bubbler. You need to keep these plugged in to keep those cute little fishies alive. 🙂

While the amount of energy saved by simply unplugging one device may not seem like much, when you begin to compound the effect of not drawing energy from multiple devices over the course of a month (and even a year), you can put a serious dent in your energy utility costs.

So take a few minutes to look around your house and start “pulling the plug” on devices you’re not using. This can be an easy step to enjoying the benefits of keeping your home energy efficient.

We hope this article has given you some helpful and practical ideas on how to lower your energy bills by unplugging some simple household devices, but certainly NOT your fish tank!

Pro Tip #1:

If you are using a power strip extension cord with multiple devices plugged in, you can switch off the power strip to instantly cut power and costs from multiple devices in an entire room at one time.

Pro Tip #2:

Many of your household devices may have a Power Saving setting that will automatically reduce their power usage after a set amount of idle time. Review the setting of those devices to take advantage of this option without having to worry about pulling any additional plugs.

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