We are all feeling it. That familiar approach of fall in the Northern hemisphere: the temperature is dropping, the sun is setting earlier, and the pumpkin spiced latte is officially back. The one key difference between this year’s seasonal transition versus that of years past? Many of us have passed over our outer jackets and chelsea boots for sweaters and indoor fuzzy slippers, continuing to work from home through the end of 2020. We do not yet know what to expect as we draw closer to the new year, but what we do know is that some adaptations will need to be made to prepare for the increased time indoors. How then should we strategize in saving energy as we brace ourselves for the colder months? Here are some low-cost tips from the nation’s leading energy authorities in keeping warm and brightly lit through the holidays.
Maintaining Heat through the Windows
One easy way to make sure you trap as much heat as possible without purchasing new gadgets or installing fancy systems? Open up those curtains and shades! Experts at NEEF (National Environmental Education Foundation) suggest that letting in as much sunlight as possible during the day from just opening your window curtains will provide “free heating via radiant energy,” which is the energy from the sun that provides the warmth we feel during the day as well as the light that feeds our plants. Southern facing windows will receive the most intense light and warmth. Once the sun begins to set, make sure you remember to close those curtains at night to keep the trapped heat from escaping.
Setting the Thermostat and Keeping it Running
It may seem counterintuitive to leave your heat turned on throughout the day and night to save energy, but it’s true – setting your thermostat to a steady temperature (the U.S. Department of Energy recommends “as low as comfortable”) is more energy efficient than turning on the heat whenever the temperature dips. In fact, you can expect to save around 10% a year on your heating bills with this one trick. Now that most of us will be indoors far more often than we will be outside of our homes this fall, it makes more sense to keep that heat running and managed by the thermostat.
Turn on the Ceiling Fan
Yes, it’s true! According to Michigan Saves, turning on and reversing the direction of the ceiling fan to counterclockwise will aid in drawing the cool air higher up, leaving warmer air to be pushed down into the room. To do this, find the direction button on your ceiling fan, and just set it to counterclockwise at low speed. Not only will this aid in air circulation, but when used in conjunction with the other tips, it will help keep your energy costs low while staying warm.
Take Advantage of Energy Audit Programs
When was the last time you have taken an energy audit of your home? Many homeowners and renters alike that are familiar with and have used the strategies mentioned here may still feel frustration in not seeing a visible decrease in their energy bill. Many states offer no cost energy audit programs where residential auditors can come to your home and conduct a “top-to-bottom look at where your home is wasting energy.” In fact, if you live in New York, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority will provide this service, determining whether drafts, heating and cooling failures, inconsistent temperatures, or other issues may be affecting your energy use.