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Front Page - Friday, December 1, 2023

How to reduce your home winter energy costs

It’s that time of year when temperatures drop and home heating bills rise. As a homeowner, you can reduce your winter fuel costs in several ways ranging from simple, inexpensive changes to significant home modifications. Here are some straightforward tips to stay cozy and keep your winter fuel costs down this winter.

Thermostat settings

You should not have to wear your coat inside your home to lower your heating bills. During the winter months, experts recommend strategically adjusting your thermostat. You can adjust your thermostat manually or install a smart thermostat to do it automatically on your chosen schedule. Adjusting the thermostat to be as low and comfortable as possible when you’re home and awake can help save on home energy consumption.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, it pays to think in eight-hour segments. You can save as much as 10% a year on your home heating and cooling costs by turning back your thermostat seven to 10 degrees from its standard setting for eight hours daily.

Setting the temperature slightly lower when you’re asleep or away from your home can also generate savings, so an extra blanket can help you save on your heating bill. Experts also recommend taking advantage of the heat from the sun during the day, which allows sunlight to heat your home naturally.

Reduce air leaks

One of the first steps to keeping your home warm is to not allow heat to escape the inside of your home. By sealing uncontrolled air leaks in your home, an average household can save 10-20% on heating bills.

Two easy ways to prevent air from leaking in your home are using weatherstripping and caulking. Weatherstripping works best for movable components in your home, such as doors or windows. The best place to start is by checking your exterior door frames. Replace any weatherstripping that’s deteriorated or cracked. If you have drafty windows, install tight-fitting, insulating drapes or shades.

Another way to reduce air leaks in your home is to seal cracks and gaps. It’s best to use caulk, a flexible material that works well on non-moving surfaces. For example, caulk can help seal cracks in areas where window frames meet the house structure.

Beyond DIY

Hiring a professional energy auditor, who will evaluate your home and identify inefficiencies, is the best way to pinpoint what will reduce your home’s overall energy consumption. Many energy companies offer a free home audit program that can also help you identify inefficiencies and lower your costs, such as EPB’s Home Energy Checkup (epb.com/energy/save-energy-and-money/home-energy-checkups).

In addition to showing where to tape, caulk and seal areas in your home, the audit might suggest improvements that require a significant investment and a professional to address. Adding insulation or upgrading to energy-efficient appliances and products such as new HVAC systems and high-performance windows will also help lower your heating bills.

For more home maintenance tips, or to find local professionals to help lower your energy costs, contact the Home Builders Association of Greater Chattanooga at hbagc.net.