’Tis the Season: Plan ahead to avoid winter dread
This article was originally published in Minnesota Agriculture Magazine.
At this time of year, the only thing scarier than black cats and jack-o-lanterns is the approaching dread of winter heating bills. But instead of getting spooked by the season, there are lots of things you can do to take charge and chase energy waste out of dark corners.
As fall harvests wind down, the timing’s good to plan ahead to avoid drafty rooms and energy cost spikes in coming months. There are several straightforward ways to make a dent in cold weather energy waste while improving comfort:
Control your thermostat. When your family’s sleeping or no one’s home, set back your thermostat by 8 degrees for at least 8 hours to keep everyone cozy without overspending.
Keep hot water hot. Add a blanket to your water heater and insulate your pipes. You pay every time you heat water, but you can avoid reheating it simply because your tank gets cold.
Put a damper on it. Warm air lost through an unused fireplace or woodstove can account for nearly 20% of your heating bill. Remember to close your damper to prevent this costly waste.
Cap air leaks. Apply plastic treatments to drafty windows, or use rope caulk to seal larger gaps. Likewise, install foam gasket seals behind electric outlets and switches on exterior walls.
Insulate against heat loss. Across the board, insulation tends to provide the biggest bang for your buck. Insulate your attic and walls for a more comfortable home and a lot less heat loss.
Rest assured that your winter prep will pay off in summer too! Minnesota might be famous for its coldest months, but we’re no stranger to long hot days when muggy rooms are also due to lack of air sealing and insulation. Protecting against temperature extremes has a year-round impact.
And if you want to dig into a bigger upgrade such as insulation for greatest impact, contact your local energy utility company for information about available rebates or a home energy audit. Or call the home energy advisors at Center for Energy and Environment (612-244-2484, mncee.org), a Minnesota-based nonprofit that promotes energy efficiency to strengthen the economy while improving the environment.
That snap in the air, crisp red apples, high school football… Autumn is one of our favorite times to celebrate life in Minnesota. So to keep your focus on the bright side this month, consider some of the winter prep ideas above, and kick energy-wasting goblins out the door.
This season doesn’t have to be too spooky, if you plan ahead to avoid the dread.