Cold Weather Have You Blue? Consider Going Green!

20 Tips for Wintertime Energy Conservation

Cold weather not only brings ice and snow, it also increases energy usage. The dark days of winter cause people to turn on their lights earlier and leave them on longer. People drive cars more and walk or ride bikes less in colder temperatures.

Cars burn more fuel in winter due to colder air temperatures and longer warm-up times. Regardless of the home heating method used, energy consumption for heat increases. As consumers, it is important for us to take advantage of every energy-saving opportunity. Think Green, save money and help to protect the environment. There are ways to act NOW to reduce energy usage:

1. Purchase energy efficient light bulbs. They will last longer, reduce operating costs, save money and still provide light quality comparable to conventional bulbs.

2. Turn off incandescent lights when you leave a room.

3. Use timers for your lights for safety and efficiency when you come home late or take a vacation.

4. Save time and gas--before shopping for special items, call to see if they are available or can be ordered by phone.

5. Reduce air pollution and conserve gas by carpooling when:

  • shopping for food.
  • running errands with a friend.
  • going to work.
  • taking the kids to school.

6. Shop through cost effective mail order catalogues, when appropriate.

7. Install a day/night thermostat which lowers temperatures at night or when you are not at home. It will also turn on the heat before you wake up. Note: According to the U.S. Department of Energy, fuel savings range from 9-18% when thermostats are set back 10 degrees for a period of eight hours.

8. Reduce the amount of heat going to rooms that are rarely occupied. (Check with a professional heating expert if you are unsure of how to do this, or if you have a heat pump system.)

9. Take time to caulk around drafty windows, especially near the thermostat.

10. Cover outside window air conditioners or remove them when possible. If you cannot reach the outside, use heavy duty plastic sheeting to cover the inside of the unit. Caulk or use weather stripping around window frames where air conditioners must remain.

11. Consider winterizing your windows. If you need to replace windows, read the October 1993 Consumer Reports to get more information on the practicality of double-glazed or Heat Mirror windows which use a special coating to retain interior heat. Do a little research and also check with an architect to see which type is best and most economical to install.

12. Purchase rolls of reflective film in different shades of darkness which adhere to windows and save up to 40% heat loss in the winter. Choices include film with self-adhesive backing that is not reusable after removal or "wetables" in which a spray bottle is used to wet one side of the film before application to windows.

13. Use insulated drapes to improve energy efficiency. These window treatments help to keep the heat in and cold out.

14. Repair or replace old or inefficient storm windows and doors.

15. Add insulation between attic beams, where the insulation is worn or exits in insufficient amounts. Eight inches of fiberglass insulation or about five inches of foamboard are needed to achieve an R-26 rating recommended by the Department of Energy. Before purchasing insulation, check R-ratings to determine the most cost effective method for your home. Remember to wear gloves and a mask when installing insulation.

16. Apply weather stripping to attic doors and areas around fold-down attic stairs.

17. Keep your heating units clean and in good operating condition by vacuuming them and periodically having a maintenance check-up.

18. Close flue dampers when not using your fireplace to avoid drafts. Use insulated plywood to close off unused fireplaces and decorate the wood to match your room.

19. Check your car frequently during the winter months for toxic chemical leaks and make repairs as soon as possible.

20. Improve your car's fuel efficiency by having the engine tuned regularly and by changing the oil every 3 months or 3,000 miles. Monitoring fuel efficiency is easy. Just set your trip odometer to 0 before filling the tank. The next time you fill up, divide the number of miles on your trip odometer by the number of gallons you purchased.

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