It may be January, but you still have time to follow the advice below. Here are some winterization tips and a giveaway to go with it!
With fall underway, cooler temperatures signal the change of the season and a time to enjoy some of our favorite traditions. As leaves change and crisp days offer the perfect backdrop for tossing the football, cooler temps are not only a relief but also a reminder that now is a great time to prep our homes for the winter months ahead. October is energy awareness month after all!
· Tune-up before you turn up the heat. A poorly functioning furnace can be an inconvenience, more importantly; it can be dangerous if left undetected. A qualified HVAC expert can help you inspect and maintain the key components of your system, including:
- Chimneys and Fireplaces – Inspect and repair issues before colder temperatures set in. Make sure the flue damper works properly on your wood-burning fireplace so you can keep it closed when the fireplace is not in use.
- Filters – Often one of the easiest things to check and change, filters act like lungs to keep the air in your home clean and pure. Replacing “congested” filters helps make sure that your system is not working overtime, using more energy than necessary, to do its job.
- Fuel Lines – Last but not least, make sure a qualified expert checks all fuel lines for safety and functionality.
· Seal up the house. According to The Department of Energy, by reducing drafts in a home, energy savings can range from 5% to 30% per year, and the home is generally much more comfortable afterward. Check and replace the seals in your house, especially doors to the basement and attic. Try sliding a piece of paper through the crevice between the door and the frame; if it slips through, it’s time to replace the seal.
· Be energy smart about heating up. Once you’ve done everything to keep the heat in your house, it’s time to be smart about how you keep warm at home. Combining technology with some tried-and-true tools will go a long way to maximize energy efficiency. For instance:
- Invest in learning. According to the Consumer Energy Center, even installing and setting a basic programmable can lower electricity bills by 10 percent.The next evolution beyond traditional programmable thermostats, newer versions, such as the Nest Learning Thermostat™ help set your home’s temperature efficiently by learning your patterns and helping ensure that you are not using energy unnecessarily when you don’t need to. The learning thermostat will learn your schedule and adjust itself automatically. You can even use a smartphone app to adjust the thermostat so your home is comfortably heated when you come back from work. While this technology sells for $249 at most home improvement stores, some energy providers, including NRG Residential Solutions, offer it for free as part of a plan that is designed to promote energy conservation.
- Smart ways to keep cozy. Space heaters might be an obvious way to turn up the heat, but they can use a lot of energy and could potentially be a safety risk. If you’re one of those people who need to be extra toasty, consider energy efficient items like an electric blanket to stay warm instead. Don’t forget to take advantage of heat generated by the sun simply by opening blinds and curtains during the day to let the sunshine in.
- Keep hot air from rising. When turning back the clock in the fall, turn fans clockwise for the winter to redirect air toward the living space, making the most of the warm air in the house.
Heating your home is one of the biggest expenses during the cooler months ahead. These simple steps can help make sure you are doing everything you can to be energy smart while still staying cozy during the winter months.
Jim Steffes is president of NE Retail for NRG Residential Solutions, one of the area’s newest energy providers committed to bringing smart and innovative energy solutions to residents in Baltimore. To learn more about NRG Residential Solutions plans available in your area, go to www.picknrg.com.
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