All over the country, this is a crazy time of year. Some people are buying presents cheerfully and others are wrapping up all of their annual year-end tasks. People are putting up holiday lights and decorations, baking cookies, giving gifts, and celebrating with friends and family. Here in the northeast we are already making snowmen too!
One of the items on some of our to-do lists is getting our homes ready for winter. Home heating is one of the nation’s biggest expenses during winter, a time when many of us are paying off those large holiday bills.
In our home I try to conserve energy when possible. The way I see it, conserve energy leads to lower bills, so not conserving is sort of like giving away money. And I would prefer not to do that, thank you very much. Yet we can always do better with conserving, so when I was offered the opportunity to participate in a Learn and Conserve Blogger Challenge with NRG Residential Solutions, I gladly accepted. The goal between now and the end of January is to learn as much as we can about saving money on energy during and implementing that knowledge during three separate energy saving challenges. And with that I have the opportunity to share great tips with you about winterizing your own home, so that we can all keep more of our money in our own wallets.
Our first challenge this week is to winterize our homes. Are you ready?
Challenge #1: Winterize Your Home
Heating your home is one of the biggest expenses during the cooler months. By making simple changes to your home, you can stay greener as the snow falls. We challenge you to try to one or more these simple steps to get your home in shape for the winter months.
Seal up the house. According to The Department of Energy, by reducing drafts in a home, energy savings can range from 5% to 30% per year, and the home is generally much more comfortable afterward. Check and replace the seals in your house, especially doors to the basement and attic. Try sliding a piece of paper through the crevice between the door and the frame; if it slips through, it’s time to replace the seal.
Tune-up before you turn up the heat. A poorly functioning furnace can be an inconvenience, more importantly; it can be dangerous if left undetected. A qualified HVAC expert can help you inspect and maintain the key components of your system, including:
- Chimneys and Fireplaces: Inspect and repair issues before colder temperatures set in. Make sure the flue damper works properly on your wood-burning fireplace so you can keep it closed when the fireplace is not in use.
- Filters: Often one of the easiest things to check and change, filters act like lungs to keep the air in your home clean and pure. Replacing “congested” filters helps make sure that your system is not working overtime, using more energy than necessary, to do its job.
Be energy smart about heating up. Once you’ve done everything to keep the heat in your house, it’s time to be smart about how you keep warm at home. Combining technology with some tried-and-true tools will go a long way to maximize energy efficiency. For instance:
- Keep hot air from rising: Turn fans clockwise for the winter to redirect air toward the living space, making the most of the warm air in the house.
- Smart ways to keep cozy: Space heaters might be an obvious way to turn up the heat, but they can use a lot of energy and could potentially be a safety risk. If you’re one of those people who need to be extra toasty, consider energy efficient items like an electric blanket to stay warm instead. Don’t forget to take advantage of heat generated by the sun simply by opening blinds and curtains during the day to let the sunshine in.
Along with the opportunity to share this information with you, each blogger in the Learn and Conserve Challenge was given a new Nest Learning Thermometer from NRG Residential Solutions. We have all been using smarter technology elsewhere in our lives, and this brings the smart to your home in a way that helps you conserve. It learns your family’s patterns, can adjust itself to them and heat your home accordingly. There is also an app which can be used to monitor your energy use patterns or adjust temperature settings remotely. It really is the coolest (no pun intended) thing ever.
NRG Residential Solutions is a new kind of energy company which empowers customers by giving them choices and control through customized electricity plans with unique rewards and access to emerging energy technology solutions. Customers can decide how long to secure their price, how much green power they want, or even if they want to incorporate cutting-edge efficiency tools. It is part of NRG Energy, Inc., a Fortune 500 company that serves more than 2 million retail customers across the country.
So why not make winterizing the home one of the tasks that we do each year as we get ready to spread a little cheer? It does not take long and could save you a bundle on your heating bill, regardless of whether there are two inches of snow where you live or twenty. Also, by signing up with NRG Residential Solutions for the Learn and Conserve Plan the Nest thermostat (which retails for $249) is included for free as part of the plan.
Tell us. How do you get your home ready for the cold winter months?
Disclosure: As an NRG Residential Solutions Ambassador, NRG Residential Solutions has provided me with a NEST Learning Thermostat ($249 value). All opinions expressed here are purely my own. The NRG Residential Solutions Learn & ConserveSM Bloggers also includes: Jennifer from Philly Fun 4 Kids, Leslie from And Her Little Dog Too, Lauuren from Mom Home Guide, and Corine from Complicated Mama.