How to Save Energy This Winter

The temperature outside is struggling to push up to the freezing mark and you are feeling the cold air as it seeps into your home. As temperatures drop back further at night, your furnace struggles to keep up. You can only imagine what your next heating bill will look like!
Saving energy over the winter months is a challenge, but it is something that can be done. Moreover, as fuel prices push into record territory, it is critical that you take action now. Read on for some tips on how to save energy this winter, enabling you to keep more of your hard earned money.
Window Treatments — Short of replacing your old, drafty windows with new energy efficient windows, there are some steps that you can take to keep the cold air out. Besides, it can cost you thousands of dollars to replace your windows and many years to recoup your investment.
First, light a match and move it around the perimeter of your windows from the inside of your home. If the light flickers, then air is seeping in from outside. Second, place plastic over your drafty windows for the duration of the season. Plastic won’t win you a design reward, but it can do good work to keep drafts out. Third, check the sealant around the windows and replace as needed. Fourth, invest in heavier drapes to trap the air. Together, these steps can help keep your windows from leaking cold air.
Hot Water Heater —  A hot bath or shower can be so refreshing. It can also eat up more fuel than you might expect.
Instead of leaving your hot water heater at the current 125 degrees Fahrenheit setting, you can drop it to 120 degrees down to 110 degrees and still enjoy pleasant showers. The lower temperatures mean that your gas water heater will consume less fuel, saving you money.
Install Insulation — How well is your home insulated? Probably not as well as it could be. What you want to do is seal air leaks throughout the home by installing insulation. Insulation blocks heat loss in the winter and thwarts heat gain in the summer.
You may be surprised to learn about the various places in your home that heat can escape. The US Environmental Protection Agency lists a number of places where heat can leak out including around dryer vents, in crawl spaces, along sill plates, in duct registers, through attic hatches, through recessed lighting, by dropped softies and in plumbing vent stack. Install insulation or sealant around these areas of the home.
Electronic Thermostat — Quite easily, you can use up more energy by simply setting the thermostat and forgetting it. You won’t necessarily have to bundle up, but if you keep your thermostat at 68 degrees during the day when you are at home and set it at 62 degrees at night, your energy consumption will drop.
These days, consumers are installing electronic thermostats that can regulate heat levels automatically. Set the thermostat to automatically rise just before you get up in the morning and drop again when you leave for work. Set it to rise again when you come home from work and drop it back down when you are ready to go to sleep. You can set your thermostat to adjust at different times including on weekends when you are more likely to be at home.
Energy Savings
Longer term, you may want to replace drafty windows, doors and skylights when you have the funds available to do so. You also can replace your old appliances with energy efficient appliances, especially those that meet the federal Energy Star guidelines.
In all, you can shave 10 to 50 percent, perhaps more off of your energy costs by making several changes. With fuel prices at elevated levels, those savings will be welcomed by homeowners this winter season.
Natasha Risinger is an energy researcher. She writes on the subject mostly for eco related blogs. Click for information on energy deregulation simplified