5 Home Energy Saving Tips for a Cold Winter 2021 Forecast
Your Energy Bills are Going Up, and What to Do About It
As fall weather settles in around Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana, many homeowners are wondering how to deal with the rise in winter heating prices.
Why are My Energy Bills Going Up? Why Are Heating Costs Rising?
At best, natural gas users should expect to see a 30% increase in heating costs, though that increase could rise to as much as 50% if the winter is colder than forecasted. Propane users can expect a 54% increase in their energy bills based on the current forecast, though they could pay nearly double their 2020 winter heating prices if the weather turns colder. Electricity users will get off easier with an anticipated increase of only 6% for the predicted winter 2021 forecast
Will the Winter 2021 Forecast Affect Winter Energy Bills?
Tried-and-true weather sources are predicting a cold winter 2021 forecast that could have a negative effect on energy bills for homeowners. Both the Old Farmer’s Almanac and Accuweather are predicting below–average winter temperatures across much of our region, and the country overall. Accuweather meteorologists predict a similar weather pattern to what we saw in winter of 2020, which included extreme cold as far south as Texas, and measurable snow across 73% of the country.
How to Lower Energy Bills with 5 Home Energy Saving Tips for Winter
Colder temperatures and higher energy bills? It’s a recipe for a miserable winter in more ways than one. With the winter 2021 forecast calling for cold temperatures and high heating prices, are you ready to battle both? Here are five winter energy saving tips to get you started on lowering your winter energy bills.
Replace Your Windows
According to the US Department of Energy, inefficient windows are responsible for 25 to 30% of the energy used to heat and cool your home. And the older your windows are, the more inefficient they become. This comes from the breakdown of window seals, and drafts that develops around the window frame as the house settles.
With that in mind, replacing your windows can have a major, positive impact on your home energy use – but only with proper installation. Start by looking for energy-efficient windows with smart window glass and non-metal spacers. Both of these components, along with well-built sashes and frames, create windows that keep energy loss to a minimum. Improveit’s Performax54 windows are a perfect example. Our Thermostat glass works with the climate, allowing low-angle sunlight to enter your home in the winter so your furnace doesn’t have to work overtime. Pair that with our SolarGold spacers to prevent energy loss through the edges of the window, plus Air-Tight Installation, and you’ll have windows that work for you by taking a load off your energy bills.
Keep the Curtains Open
Speaking of smart window glass, be sure to use your windows to your advantage in the winter by keeping curtains and blinds open as often as possible. Letting the sun shine in will help increase your indoor air temperature without having to rely on the furnace. Having said that, sunlight can also have a negative effect on your home’s furnishings by causing fabrics, flooring, and other finishes to fade over time. Look for windows with at least three layers of Low-e protection so you get the benefit of heat from the sun without the damaging UV effects.
Lower Your Thermostat
Lower your thermostat in the winter? It may sound counterintuitive, but even a couple of degrees can make a difference in your home’s energy use. Energy.gov recommends setting your indoor air temperature to 68 F during a winter day, and even lower while you’re asleep or away from home. The reasoning here is that the smaller the difference between indoor and outdoor temperatures, the lower your overall heating load will be.
Making thermostat adjustments incrementally can be easier than making a big jump all at once. Programmable thermostats help make the transition easy, so you can “set-it-and-forget-it,” and only turn the heat up if you get uncomfortable.
Change Your Ceiling Fan Direction
Here’s another recommendation that may sound odd: take advantage of your ceiling fan during the winter months. Most ceiling fans feature a switch that reverses the fan’s direction from counterclockwise in summer to clockwise in winter. We all know warm air rises, but because of the angle of the fan blades, a ceiling fan running clockwise will redirect warm rising air back to the floor. The experts at Hunter say this trick is especially helpful for rooms with vaulted ceilings, and recommend running the fan on the lowest speed to keep from creating a breeze.
Seal Gaps & Add Insulation
With the threat of your energy bills rising, don’t let the heat in your home rise too. Keeping warm, conditioned air where it belongs is crucial, and attic insulation can be an easy step toward achieving that. The Insulation Institute has a handy guide for determining if your attic has enough insulation to keep your home comfortable, recommending 16-18 inches of blown-in insulation to achieve R-49 in northern climates. Can you see the tops of the floor joists in your attic? If so, it’s time to bulk up your insulation.
Of course, insulation extends to many other parts of your home as well. Winter is an ideal time to identify where gaps and cracks are creating drafts that cause expensive energy loss. Draft-stops and gaskets around doorframes, as well as spray foam blown into foundation gaps and cracks, can help minimize the effects of these sneaky drafts.
Combating More than High Energy Bills in Winter
Taking a look around your home each season is an important part of winter home maintenance, and does more than help you lower your winter energy bills. It can also help you identify and prioritize your home improvement opportunities. For instance, air-sealing gaps and cracks in your foundation can help you reduce drafts and energy loss, but don’t forget to have a construction professional assess your foundation in the spring. Remember, even small openings can allow moisture and pests into your walls, in which case high energy bills may become the least of your worries.
As you plan your to-do list, here’s a list of nine winter home maintenance tips to help you identify which projects are easy to DIY, and which are best left to the pros. If window replacement is on your list, be sure to give Improveit a call for a free consultation and home energy assessment. With our full lifetime warranty, you also get free annual window inspections to help ensure your Performax54 windows stay in top shape for as long as the home is standing!