How to Save Energy — And Stay Warm — This Winter

 Homes in Sea Cliff, N.Y. in 2015. AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek.

Homes in Sea Cliff, N.Y. in 2015. AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek.

By Emily Folk

Special to the Eagle

To warm you through the winter season, you depend on your home’s heating system. And while it’s there for that precise reason, an over-reliance might raise your monthly utility bill and leave you feeling cold toward your provider. More than that, the excess expenditure is detrimental to the environment.

There’s no reason to fret the freeze, however, and we’ve compiled some hot tips. Consider the suggestions below and determine which of them are ideal for your living space. Regardless of circumstances, you have options for reducing your costs and carbon footprint, and you’ll no doubt warm to these ideas.

1. Clear the Area Around Your Radiator

Take full advantage of the heat from your radiator, clearing the area around it of any furniture that could compromise its effectiveness. A hefty item positioned in front of a radiator will absorb its warmth, leaving less for your living space. In a cooler room with a blocked radiator, you’ll have to adjust the thermostat to compensate.

This change is straightforward and shouldn’t require too much time. Simply locate the radiators in your house or apartment unit, and make some slight rearrangements to the furniture in those rooms. It costs you no money at all, and you’ll likely notice an immediate difference in the temperature.

2. Install Thermal Curtains to Trap Heat

A thick pair of curtains, thermal or otherwise, will trap heat within your home. They’ll sustain the temperature of your space and keep it nice and cozy. On a sunny day when clouds and inclement weather don’t threaten your comfort, you can open your curtains to let the sunshine in and enjoy the natural light.

You can choose from a broad selection of different window coverings to improve your energy efficiency. Tightly installed cellular shades can reduce heat loss through your windows by an incredible 40 percent or more. These same shades serve the opposite purpose in spring and summer, protecting against solar heat.

3. Find and Seal Cracks to Fix Drafts

Even small, virtually unnoticeable cracks have the potential to steal heat from your home and let in cold air. Attending to these flaws is a simple process, however, and anyone with an amateur understanding of DIY can make the fixes themselves. All you need to manage a draft is caulk and weatherstripping.

With a stick of lit incense or a candle, survey your space, making a note of any place that draws the smoke or flame. Many leaks occur around entranceways and windows, so take care to inspect these areas a little more closely. When you find a draft, use the caulk and weatherstripping to seal it tight.

4. Use a Programmable Thermostat

Your thermostat is the control center of your heating system, and an investment in new technology will ultimately reduce your energy expenditure. With a programmable model, you can keep the temperature low while you’re at work or asleep and let it warm you when you’re present to enjoy the benefits.

Through careful management of your heating system, you’ll maximize your efficiency and see a significant cut in costs. With a set-and-forget thermostat, you’ll no longer have to make adjustments before you leave your home and after you return. It’s a small convenience, but one you’ll surely appreciate.

5. Wash Clothes at a Low Temperature

Most common laundry detergents are effective at lower temperatures, and for many articles of clothing, hot water isn’t necessary for a thorough wash. Consider changing the settings on your washing machine before you clean your next load to conserve energy. You’ll find no difference in the results.

Before you move your wet clothes to the dryer, make sure to wring them free of any excess water. This extra measure will lessen the time it takes for your load to dry. With the inexpensive addition of a few dryer balls, you can further accelerate the process, reducing drying time by up to 25 percent.

Saving the Planet on a Budget

You don’t have to compromise your comfort for the health of the planet or your wallet. Through the five techniques listed above, you’ll save on your energy expenditure and monthly utility bill, preserving the warmth in your home while managing your carbon footprint. A small change makes a big difference — and sustainability starts in the home.

Emily Folk is the editor of Conservation Folks. She writes on topics of sustainability, conservation and green technology.