Georgia is known primarily for Atlanta, AKA “Hotlanta.” However, it can get quite frigid in the winter months. Every Georgian remembers the “Snowmageddon” of Jan. 28, 2014. I was among the countless Georgians who had to abandon their vehicle at the side of the road and even help to push firetrucks up hills and walk home. It was two inches of ice that brought Georgia and Metro Atlanta to a standstill. It was terrible and a learning experience at the same time. So even though the summers can be blistery, it can get quite cold here during the winter months. It is tempting to just adjust the utilities to feel more comfortable, however, that will cost you more money. Add some of these energy-saving tips to your arsenal and you will passively save yourself money. In the end, saving energy equals saving money.
Here is a list of 15 winter energy saving tips to keep you comfortable without breaking the bank.
15 Ways to Save Energy in Atlanta
- Make good use of the sun and nature
- Service your HVAC system and change the filter
- Check caulking around your home’s exterior
- Maintain your fireplace
- Close off rarely used rooms
- Use a programmable thermostat
- Layer up With Clothes and Blankets
- Put your ceiling fan in reverse
- Adjust the humidity in the winter months
- Clear path for air to flow
- Place area rugs on hard floors
- Use space heaters where feasible
- Find an excuse to use your oven during winters
- Tapup on attic insulation
- Make energy-efficient remodels
1. Make good use of the Sun and Nature
Do not work against nature, let it be your help to save money throughout the year. Plant deciduous trees on the south side of your home with big windows to let sunlight in during winter months to passively warm your home when the leaves fall off. During the warmer months, the trees will shade those windows. Make sure that you do not have drapes and curtains to block out that sunlight. If you do, you want to make sure those are open during the daytime.
2. Service your HVAC system and change the filter
Your HVAC is a part of the breathing apparatus of your home. Replace your HVAC filters often during the operational time of the year. If your system uses the 1 inch thick filters, you may have to replace them every 3 months. Air will move much easier through the filters if they are clean. This will save you money because your system will not work as hard. Consider servicing your system annually to make sure it is working efficiently. Having an up-to-date and efficiently operating HVAC is one of the best ways to save energy. According to EnergyStar.gov, “the average household spends more than $2,200 a year on energy bills, with nearly half going to heating and cooling.”
3. Check caulking around your home’s exterior
Do a walk around your home and check for gaps. If you see gaps, it should be caulked. If the caulk is failing, it is a good idea to remove the old caulk and add your caulk. Check the weather stripping of your doors and windows: if you can see light under your doors or windows or feel a draft, that is a highway for money to leave your home. Change the weather-stripping and save money in the long run.
According to Energy Saver, caulking your home provides one of the greatest returns on investment when it comes to energy-saving investments in your home. They can provide savings between 10%-20% energy savings.
The home should be “tight.” That means that air should not just enter and leave through every part of your home. Plus, tightening your home’s envelope may reduce access to bugs and pests. A homes envelope is the separation of the conditioned air in a home from the air that it outside the home. A tight home envelope will also allow the HVAC system will operate more efficiently.
4. Maintain your fireplace
Your fireplace can be a blessing and a curse if it is not used properly. During the winter months, it can be a very easy way for heat to escape through the damper. Make sure the damper is closed when it is not being used, particularly during the winter months. The stack effect will cause warm air in your home to be pulled outside.
5. Close off rarely used rooms
Make sure that you have an air duct supply and return in each room of your home. If your home is on the older side, you may not have air return in each room.
It may be a good idea to close the door and supply ducts to rooms that are not being used during the winter months. This will force more air into the spaces where warmth is actually needed.
6. Use a Programmable Thermostat
If your house still has the older version of thermostats where you can only set the temperature, you should consider using a programmable thermostat. This will allow you to set the temperature based on the projected weather. If you want to turn it up a notch, you may want to consider a smart thermostat. Smart thermostats connect to your home’s internet network so that you can control them from anywhere in the world. Some of these devices use artificial intelligence to determine when a space is not being used and adjust accordingly.
7. Layer up with clothes and blankets
The season has changed and we have to change with the season. as the temperature lowers, we have to add more layers to stay warm and save energy.
8. Put your ceiling fan in reverse
Particularly for homes with vaulted ceilings, you want to set your fan to spin in reverse (clockwise direction) and at a slower speed. This will cause the fan to gently pull the air from the room upwards and force warm air down before it escapes to the floor above or into your attic.
9. Adjust the humidity in the winter months
During the winter months, the furnace dries up the air and sends it to the living spaces. This reduces the overall humidity. The lower the humidity, the higher the temperature that is needed to feel warm. You can get a humidifier to add humid air to the room. This will add moisture to the room and will make it more comfortable for everyone and reduces dry skin.
10. Clear path for air to flow
Do not put a mask over your vents in your home. Keep the path of air free and unobstructed. Make sure that they are not any furniture or floor covering over air vents.
11. Place area rugs on hard floors
Who likes to hop out of bed onto a cold floor? I know that is not true. You can use area rugs and carpets to warm up an otherwise cold space. These surfaces may also trap heat and keep it in a room longer. The trend right now is hardwood throughout, but that may not be the most comfortable on a blustery winter night.
12. Use space heaters where feasible
If you live in a 5 bedroom home and there are only two adults in the home, it may be an overkill to keep the entire home cozy. Close off the rooms that are not being used and use a space heater in individual rooms for a more toasty feel in those rooms.
13. Find an excuse to use your oven during winters
A good way to use energy is to use it more than once. Using the over during the winter months will do just that. Now only are you making something scrumptious, but you are also helping to heat the entire home.
14. Tapup on attic insulation
Check the height of the insulation in your attic. If you are using blown insulation, the insulation should be at least 10 inches thick in the attic.
15. Make energy-efficient remodels
If you are going to remodel, especially the ceiling between floors, it may be a good idea to add insulation. This will help to trap heat on the various floors and reduce the amount of heat that flows into the attic.
Upgrading your windows is also a smart investment that can pay for itself over time, especially if you get energy-efficient windows.
Finally, adding energy-efficient upgrades to your home will not only make you more comfortable, but it may also pay off at tax time. Some upgrades to your home will allow you to claim a portion back when you go to file your taxes. Let your tax preparer or accountant know that you added energy-efficient upgrades to your home.
Check out this post from the IRS that talks about energy-efficient upgrades and your wallet.