Autumn. The time of year when we drape ourselves in flannel, devour (or bemoan) everything pumpkin spice, and drink in the vibrant palette of yellows, oranges, and reds dotting the mountainside.
It’s also the time when days grow colder and shorter—and energy costs creep up.
So before you get too cozy with your favorite fall latte, take time to prepare your home for winter by following three steps: tune it up, turn it down, and fix the leaks.
Tune it up
You don’t necessarily need expensive upgrades or fancy fixtures to make your home more energy efficient. Instead, try to make your existing equipment run as efficiently as possible.
“An equipment tune-up typically results in some energy performance benefits,” says Tim Perrin, Account Manager at Efficiency Vermont.
To ensure efficient heating at home, Perrin recommends:
- Checking boilers and furnaces
- Cleaning radiators and vents
- Replacing filters
He also suggests installing efficient LED bulbs as way to “light up the dark winter nights for less.” Some LED bulbs cost as little as 95 cents.
Turn it down
Perrin recommends a programmable or smart learning thermostat to reduce energy use this winter.
Have a standard mercury dial thermostat? You can still save energy: simply turn down the heat at night and when you’re away from home.
You may also want to assess—and reduce—other energy consumption practices at home.
Burlington Electric Department provides a tool called Energy Engage, which helps customers learn how they consume energy.
“It can be very informative for folks trying to figure out when they are using energy and also gives tips about how to reduce,” says Chris Burns, Director of Energy Services.
Burns also suggests checking out energyChamp, a program that helps BED and Vermont Gas customers understand their energy usage, improve efficiency, and learn about rebate opportunities.
Fix the leaks
Perrin recommends surveying windows, doors, and anywhere there is a penetration from the outside to the inside. Keep an eye out for cracks and crevices—if light can penetrate, so can cold air.
“If you take all those small penetrations and add them up, it aggregates to a big hole in your wall,” explains Perrin. “Think of it as having a window open all year long.”
But don’t worry—you don’t need to install expensive windows to combat leaks. Perrin says that a $5 can of spray foam is often an easy do-it-yourself solution to drafty windows.
Check out the Button Up Vermont Checklist to learn more about DIY weatherization projects and how you can earn rebates for your efficiency work.
Danielle Calaway is facilities operations and sustainability coordinator at the University of Vermont Medical Center.