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Energy efficiency is important all year round, but is particularly pertinent in winter. Here are the basics of energy efficiency at this time of year.

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In the winter, people put a lot of time and energy into making their homes energy efficient because they want to keep in as much heat as possible. Plus, with heating and cooling our homes accounting for 48 percent of the energy use in the average American household, they also want ways to keep as much money as possible in their wallets.

Thankfully, there are various techniques everyone can use to make their homes more energy efficient.

Make your fireplace more energy efficient

There’s nothing quite like the warmth and ambience of a crackling fire in the fireplace. However, improper use of a fireplace can actually contribute to heat loss in your home. Unless you actually have a fire burning, you should always keep the damper closed.

When the damper is open, it’s just like having a window in your house open. Installing a tempered glass door and a heat-air exchange system that will blow warm air back into the room can also help make your fireplace more energy efficient.

Seal drafts in your home

In the winter, drafts in your home can cause too much air to enter your house and make it feel much colder. Sealing these drafts improves the comfort and air quality in your home. The easiest way to locate drafts in your home is to wait for a windy day and then hold a candle around your door jams, windows, and vents.

If you see the flame flickering, you know you have a draft there. Once you find a draft, use silicone caulking or weather-stripping to seal it.

Candle and window

Take advantage of natural heat

During the winter, you can take advantage of the low position of the sun and warm your home by doing nothing more than opening the curtains on your west-facing and south-facing windows. The sun’s rays will shine in and naturally heat your home.

At night, close your curtains to trap that warm air inside. As an added bonus, switch out your regular curtains for thermal curtains, which can help protect your home from heat loss even better.

Add insulation

If there’s a big difference between the temperature outside and the temperature inside your home, it takes more energy to maintain that indoor temperature. That’s why the most energy-efficient homes have good insulation in their walls and attic.

In fact, some older homes have no insulation in their exterior walls, so adding it here can more than pay for itself in energy savings in just a few years.

Lower the temperature on your water heater

Heating water accounts for around 18 percent of the energy consumed in your house. Most water heaters come from the factory set at 140 degrees, yet the majority of households can set their water heaters at 120 degrees and never notice a difference. For every 10 degrees you lower the temperature on your water heater, you can save between $12 and $30 a year.

Keep these winter energy-saving tips in mind if you’re looking to cut your heating costs while still maintaining comfort in your home.

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Resources:

http://energy.gov/energysaver/projects/savings-project-lower-water-heating-temperature

http://www.energy.gov/public-services/homes/heating-cooling

http://energy.gov/energysaver/fall-and-winter-energy-saving-tips

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What are some of your annual care and maintenance energy efficiency jobs you find the most useful in winter? What are some problem areas when it comes to heat loss and efficiency around your house? Tell us your stories below in the comments section. 

 

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Cate Morgan-Harlow

Cate Morgan-Harlow is an all arounder, writing about how-to, DIY, and design with gusto. She is a shadowy figure with a mysterious past.