Welcome to Day #8 of the January Money Diet. Congratulations on making it through the first week!
Today we’re going to explore ways to save by lowering our home energy bills. We’ll enjoy the financial rewards of s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g our money, and we’ll have the added environmental benefit of reducing our own carbon footprint.
The January Money Diet is an excellent time to experiment with some new energy-saving strategies. Here in the Northern hemisphere many of us are facing larger-than-normal energy bills due to colder-than-normal temperatures.
To our friends in the Southern hemisphere who are in the middle of summer and facing cooling challenges, you might enjoy this article from Greatist with “23 Tricks to Survive Hot Summer Nights (Without AC.)”
These are some wintertime energy-saving ideas for you to consider:
1. Get Caulking
Drafts increase home energy use 5 to 30%, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, with 11% of a home’s heat loss occurring through poorly-sealed doors and windows. If you already have caulk or sealing supplies on hand, go around your house when the temperatures are nippy and find any places where you have leaks. Sealing up air leaks now will permanently reduce the amount of expensive heated air that escapes, and will also help keep your home cooler during hot temperatures.
2. Get Cooking
Baking and cooking not only warm us on the inside, they help warm the kitchen, too. If you don’t have young children or curious pets in the home, you can leave the oven door ajar after you turn off the stove to let some of that warm air heat the room.
3. Let the Sun Shine In
On sunny days, open the blinds or drapes to allow the sun to shine in and warm your house with passive solar energy.
4. Dress Well
Before turning up the thermostat, try throwing on a sweater. It’s much less expensive to warm you than your whole house. Dressing in layers helps trap heat, and sometimes just adding a camisole or undershirt can make you feel much warmer. Good socks will help your toes stay warm, too.
If you’re prone to cold hands, here’s a low-tech tip I read that actually works: fill a water bottle with hot water and roll it between your palms to warm them up.
5. Check Your Furniture
January is a great time to rearrange the furniture, and while you’re at it you can make sure that sofas, beds, bookcases and chairs are not blocking any heat vents or radiators.
6. Find the Right Water Temperature
There’s nothing better than a hot shower or bath on a chilly day. On the other hand, we don’t need to continuously heat all of that water in the tank hotter than it needs to be. (If you have an on-demand water heater, this tip doesn’t apply… and I am a little envious.)
You may wish to turn down your hot water heater a degree or two and see how you like it. Maybe it’s fine, maybe another degree or two down wouldn’t hurt — either way, it’s just an experiment. (The U.S. Dept. of Energy recommends a water heater setting of 120 degrees F.)
7. Bust a Move
Exercise, dance, clean the house, run up and down the stairs — just get moving to increase your blood flow and circulation, and you’ll feel warmer.
For inspiration, I HIGHLY recommend watching “100 Party Dance Moves You Should Learn.” With a little practice, you’ll be doing the Paul Rudd dance in no time.
8. Get Cozy
January is a great month to experiment with turning down the heater by one degree. If you feel still feel comfortable after a day or two, try another degree. We keep warm blankets in the family room so we can snuggle up on the couch while we’re watching movies. You might also like to try sleeping with flannel sheets or an extra blanket on the bed at night. We have warm comforters on our beds, and my family and I love sleeping with the heat turned way down, cozy under the covers.
9. Light Right
Try eating dinner by candlelight, or light an oil lamp for evening illumination occasionally this month. (My son loves it when we do this). Get in the habit of always turning off lights when you leave a room, and take advantage of natural sunlight whenever possible.
10. Unplug Sneaky Energy Draws
Anything with a little power light on is drawing electricity, which means our plugged-in tablets and coffee grinders and power drills are costing us money and wasting energy when we’re not using them. Unplug appliances so they don’t use power while sitting idle. Plug appliances you use often into a power strip with an on/off button for added convenience. Every little bit helps.
11. Be Snug as a Bug
Area rugs will help warm up hard floor surfaces. You can also reduce drafts under doors and windows by [making your own draft stopper from materials you might already have on hand. A rolled up towel will do in a pinch!
12. Run the Ceiling Fan
This always seemed counter-intuitive to me until I tried it. Warm air rises, so if you reverse your fan to a clockwise direction and run it on the very lowest speed, the blades will gently push the warm air back down into the room. This tip makes an even bigger difference in homes with tall ceilings.
13. Cover Drafty Windows
My insulation contractor taught me this trick: Close your blinds at night with the blinds pointed upward toward the ceiling so that cold air isn’t drawn into the house. Even when the blinds are open during the day, he recommends tilting them slightly up to reduce drafts.
Be sure to close drapes and shades at night to keep the heat in. We buy window film kits on sale in April and use them to line a couple of drafty windows the following winter; I’m always amazed at how well they work. Some people cover their windows with bubble wrap for additional insulation; I haven’t personally tried that, but if you already have the supplies you may want to experiment.
How About You?
How do you save energy? We’d love to hear your tips over at the Money Diet Community Facebook group.
P.S. If you use Pinterest to save ideas, here’s a handy pin:
Grateful thanks to Matthew Henry at Unsplash for the use of the pug photo above!