The winter months bring lower temperatures – and higher energy bills. One of the biggest sources of heat loss from a home can be around the windows and doors. Older windows, which often feature just one piece of glass, can be especially chilly.
If this is a problem in your home, the best solution may be to replace your windows, and the affiliates on Glass.com can help you do that. However, if your budget doesn’t allow for window replacement just yet, here are some winter energy saving tips to help you make it through the cold-weather months.
There are many strategies to keep drafts out without busting your budget.
For example, you can use insulating drapes or shades. These products are thicker and heavier than regular shades or drapes.
If your windows still feel drafty, the next line of defense could be sheets of heavy clear plastic film on a frame or taped to the inside of your window frames. You’ll want to ensure that sure the plastic is tightly sealed to the frame to keep the air out.
Alternately, open those shades or drapes on south-facing windows during the day to allow the rays of the sun to heat your home naturally. This is called passive solar heating, and it’s a concept that’s used a lot in much bigger buildings.
Most newer homes have insulation in the attic or walls, but if yours doesn’t, now might be the time to add some. Pay special attention to the attic, because the top of the house is the primary site for heat loss. There are four main types of insulation: loose fill, made of glass fibers, cellulose or mineral; rigid boards, which are composed of plastic foams or glass fibers; batts, which is made of cotton, fiberglass or wool; and expanding sprays. Experts can help determine the best insulation for your home.
There are many ways to detect leaks in your home. Some Glass.com affiliates have sophisticated equipment for detecting leaks, but there are some things you can do on your own.
For example, a visual inspection of all openings or gaps in and around your home will detect most leaks. Problem areas include exterior corners; outdoor water faucets; the meeting points for chimneys and siding; places where the foundation and the bottom of exterior brick or siding meet; window and door frames; baseboards; electrical outlets; switch plates; the entrances for electrical and gas service; fireplace dampers; attic openings; window-mounted air conditioners; cable TV and phone lines; and vents and fans.
While modern homes are generally much more tightly sealed than those of earlier generations, openings for things such as utilities, as well as windows and doors, provide a perfect path for heat loss.
One option is to put caulk or weatherstripping around leaky doors and windows to seal them up tight.
For weatherstripping, pick a kind that will stand up to friction, temperature changes, wear and tear, and weather. It should provide a strong seal when the window or door is closed while also allowing it to open easily.
For caulk, choose the kind that is appropriate for the job. For example, there are silicone caulks that are made for household applications and others that are for construction sites. There are also a variety of spray foams, butyl rubber, latex, or sealants that are oil- or resin-based.
If your home has a fireplace, you can certainly use it to burn wood. (And if you cut the wood down yourself, you’ll really save money.) However, you want to be smart about using your fireplace. When you’re not burning wood in it, be sure to keep the damper closed. Otherwise, it’s like leaving a huge window open. Check the seal on the damper to make sure it’s as tight as it can be. If you use your fireplace regularly, use tempered glass doors to conserve energy. Also, a heat-air exchange system can blow warm air into your living space and circulate it more effectively. Caulking can be used around the hearth to make sure it’s tightly sealed, too.
While replacing windows and sealing leaks can help keep cold air out, you may also save energy in a very simple way – by turning the thermostat down.
When you’re home and awake, set the temperature as low as you can to still be comfortable. When you go to bed at night, bump the thermostat down around a few degrees. By turning the heat back for eight hours while sleeping, you can save 10 percent on energy bills in a year.
A programmable or “smart” thermostat can handle a lot of those tasks automatically. You can program many newer models with your smartphone.
Make it a habit to get your furnace or heat pump serviced in the fall each year before heating season begins. In the spring, get your air conditioning looked at before cooling season begins. Technicians can spot problems, and simple, low-cost tune ups can help your systems run more efficiently, which saves money.
A nice, hot shower in the winter can feel great, but it can also jack up your utility bill. (It may dry out your skin, too.) You may be able to save some money by setting the temperature on your hot water heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you’re looking for experts with strong ideas about energy management in the home, be sure to start your search on Glass.com. That’s especially true if you’re looking to replace your windows or doors. They can guide you through the selection process and help you pick the right products for your home, lifestyle and budget. And if you’d like to know more about doors, windows, glass or hardware, visit our info center for more articles like this one.