6 Ways to Make Your Home More Energy-Efficient for Winter 

October 19, 2022

Every season has its own energy challenges. As we round the bend toward winter, here are some smart energy-efficient updates and changes you can make to your home that will bring year-round benefits, from cost savings to improved comfort. 

Small energy efficient house wrapped in a hat and sweater among glistening snow backdrop

What Makes A Home Energy-Efficient?

The answer to this question is, it depends. Some homes take energy efficiency into account from day one of the design process. Home builders could use specific materials and building techniques, along with other considerations that will ensure that the home makes the most of available resources. Most energy-efficient homes are tightly-sealed, utilize controlled ventilation, have optimally-sized heating and cooling systems, and employ energy-efficient doors, windows, and appliances. All the while, protection, comfort, convenience and aesthetic appeal are not compromised.

All that said, most of us are not designing a new home, we’re working with what we have. There are certainly some retrofitting jobs that can be done to reduce energy consumption and waste, and even basic tips and tricks can go a long way to making energy-conscious changes. For the average person, being “energy-efficient” is about saving money on bills as much (or more) than it is about benefiting the environment, but that is also a natural byproduct of these suggestions.

Energy-Efficient Home Improvements

If you’re working with an older home that wasn’t designed with energy efficiency in mind, there are some easy changes and home improvements that can make a big difference to energy use. 

Roof repairs can help to ensure that you aren’t losing inordinate amounts of heat through your roof, while also ensuring that it's doing its job of blocking out the elements. Drafty spots can be sealed, and insulation can be pumped into walls and attic spaces. Window repair or replacement is also key, as drafty windows with faulty seals or a compromised gas layer can be a major contributor to heat loss and overuse of your home’s heating and cooling system. Providing a buffer of air between your home’s interior and the outside elements is also an easy way to keep your home comfortable year round. Modern storm doors are attractive but also functional, and they help to prevent excessive air exchange between the interior of your home and the uncontrolled outdoor climate.

There are a whole host of other major overhauls you can do to improve your home’s energy efficiency, like replacing an aging HVAC system, roof replacement, or replacing old and leaky single-glazed windows. Get in touch with the team at Fairview Home Improvement to learn more about some practical updates that will improve your home’s energy efficiency.

Benefits Of An Energy-Efficient Home

So just why should you aim for a more energy-efficient home? Your first thought might be that energy efficient homes can help the environment, but the bottom line is that trying to be more energy efficient makes the best use of your valuable resources. Besides lower energy costs, your home can also be more comfortable, quieter, and generally more pleasant to live in. Folks with allergies will also appreciate the reduction of pollen and other allergens that results from sealed external leaks. 

6 Ways to Improve Energy-Efficiency in Winter

With just a few easy tips and changes, you can make better use of the energy you’re already using every day in your home this winter.

  1. Take Advantage of Sunlight

It’s a good thing to keep in mind when you’re building a home or house shopping, but if you’re already in a home, then paying attention to how windows are oriented is important. Eastern and northern windows will receive the least amount of sunlight, and so those rooms will naturally be cooler. In the summer that’s great, but in colder months, it’s a good idea to keep those windows covered with a thick curtain, especially at night and on cloudy days. Meanwhile, western and southern facing windows can help you to capture a lot of natural sunlight and heat. 

Blackout and thermal curtains or other window coverings are a great investment for energy efficiency, any time of year. Keep sunny windows free of curtains from sunrise to sunset to trap available heat–then be sure to cover them at night to avoid losing heat through the glass. Beyond the warming effect, natural sunlight can also help to sanitize indoor spaces and it’s a natural mood booster during the dark days of winter. 

  1. Improve Insulation

High-quality insulation of the appropriate R-value will keep your home cooler in summer and warmer in winter–essentially it helps to maintain a constant internal temperature that is easier on your HVAC system to control. That consistent baseline keeps your home more comfortable and can help to reduce overall energy costs and consumption. If your home was built without adequate insulation, blown-in insulation is a great option for use in walls, attics and tight spaces. Working with a professional ensures that the right insulation and equipment are used to make the most of your investment.

  1. Air Sealing

Double check areas that open or connect to the outdoors and use caulk or weatherstripping to seal any cracks or openings. These areas will easily let warm air out and cold air in, compromising your comfortable internal climate and taxing your home’s heating system. 

The best spots to prevent air escape are:

  • Windows and exterior doors
  • HVAC ducts
  • Pipe wall penetrations
  • Attic hatch openings
  • Exterior wall outlet and lightswitch boxes
  • Window AC units
  • Gaps around chimneys and recessed lights
  • Spaces behind cupboards and closets

An unexpected spot for air loss could be a fireplace. When in use, it’s a great way to concentrate heat in an enclosed space and take the burden off of your heating system. But when it’s not lit, a fireplace can be an entry point for cold air. Have a fireplace insert installed to prevent this, and keep the damper closed when your fireplace isn’t in use.

  1. Adjust the Temperature 

Simple adjustments can allow you to set your thermostat just a little bit lower, saving money and energy in the long run. While you’re home and awake, experiment with temperatures to find the lowest but still comfortable level that you can set the thermostat. This might require an additional layer of clothing, a hot beverage, or a blanket, but the dividends that a lower temperature can pay could be worth it. Ceiling fans can also be reversed in direction to pull cool air up and push warm air down, helping to regulate temperature throughout the home.

For additional heat, isolate one room where you spend most of your time, close doors and use a space heater or fireplace to keep that area warmer. The bathroom can be one place where warmer temperatures are appreciated. Use a towel warmer or a small space heater to warm your bathroom before a shower so that you’re more comfortable. This is far more efficient than heating your entire home so that one room is your preferred temperature. 

If you aren’t at home or if you’re sleeping, lowering the temperature is a must. Not only do you prevent unnecessary heating, but lower temperatures will also contribute to better sleep.

  1. Switch Lighting Sources

Estimates vary, but 75% seems to be a pretty solid amount by which you can reduce electricity use in your lighting fixtures. How? By switching out older styles of bulbs to LED lighting. This is true for any light fixture you might have, but especially so for holiday lighting that is often illuminated all night long, for a good portion of the winter. Choose ENERGY STAR® certified lighting options to cut down on extra energy consumption while still enjoying festive décor.

  1. Get a Smart Thermostat

If it seems like a pain to try and manage remembering to increase and decrease the thermostat when you leave the home, when you’re sleeping, or at other times, a Wi-Fi enabled smart thermostat might be your answer. This device can remember your heating and cooling preferences and you can create a schedule so that it automatically adjusts the temperature for you. This readily available technology can optimize your heating and cooling schedule so that you’re comfortable while also reducing energy use. Pay attention to where the thermostat is located–if the area is drafty or a naturally cool pocket, it could skew the overall temperature reading and heat the home more than is necessary.

One tip that you’ll come across pretty often (but that some experts dismiss as a myth), is that closing vents can help to redirect warm air to other rooms in the home. Some folks claim this is a must in rooms that aren’t used often, while others say that most HVAC systems are too leaky–air would simply be forced out of the ducts, not redirected into other rooms. At any rate, this is a popular suggestion, and it’s worth an experiment to see if it works well for you.

Energy-Efficient Home Improvements from Your Trusted Local Contractor

Here in Cleveland we get the best of the seasons, but sometimes the temperatures can take their toll on our homes. This winter, use just a few tips to lower your energy consumption and save on utility bills. If you're ready for an upgrade, get in touch with the Fairview Home Improvement team to learn more about replacement windows, doors, and roofing. Reach out today and get a customized quote for your next home project!

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