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Home Winterization Tips: Conserve Energy & Water

Man caulking the seams around his window for home winterization.

Let’s face it: Winter is nearly upon us. We may never feel truly ready to face the season’s harsh weather and bitter cold, but we can make sure our homes are. Read on to learn more about home winterization tips and how you can conserve energy and water throughout the cold months.

Home Energy Conservation and Preparation

Winterize Your Air Conditioner System

Take care of your AC system now to help ensure it will be ready to go when cooling season arrives. Clean and remove any debris from the outdoor condensing unit, and then cover it to avoid rusting, internal freezing, and other potential damage.

Test and Tune Your Heating System

Fire up your furnace to check for any issues now so you can fix them before the serious cold hits. And schedule a tune-up/routine maintenance from a trusted HVAC technician to ensure optimal performance and safety. If your home has a fireplace, have it professionally inspected and serviced.

Seal Leaks and Drafts

Prevent unwanted heat loss that forces your HVAC system to work harder. Check exterior walls around the home, especially by windows and doors, and seal any cracks, seams, and other leaks with caulk and weatherstripping.

Take Advantage of Ceiling Fans

It may sound counterintuitive, but ceiling fans can help increase heating efficiency in the winter. Set them to rotate clockwise at a low speed—this pulls cool air upwards and pushes naturally rising warm air back down where you can feel it.

(Safely) Use Space Heaters

Space heaters allow you to heat up specific, frequently used areas like your home office, as well as drafty or cold spots without paying to heat the whole house. However, they shouldn’t be left unattended, used on uneven surfaces, or in tight spaces near other potentially flammable surfaces. Visit a past blog post to learn more about how to “be safe with space heaters.”

Maintain Humidity Levels

Cold winter air holds less moisture than warm air, making it feel colder than it actually is. It also makes the air dry, which can lead to issues like warped and damaged wood, bloody noses, and itchy skin. Using humidifiers will help avoid these problems while also making the air feel warmer, allowing you to set the thermostat a few degrees lower and save energy.

Practice Smart Thermostat Management

Rather than simply adjusting the thermostat whenever you feel like, use these guidelines to help minimize your energy usage:

  • Let the home heat up gradually instead of cranking the thermostat. Rather than heating the home quickly, setting the temperature high forces the system to work harder and less efficiently.
  • Consider upgrading your thermostat. With programmable thermostats, you can pre-set temperatures for multiple days and let the system run optimally on its own. There are also smart thermostats that learn your preferences after a few days and begin adjusting themselves accordingly.
  • Decrease the temperature setting at night and when no one is home. Don’t pay to heat an empty house. Dropping the thermostat 7 – 10 degrees for 8 hours a day can save you up to 10 percent on annual heating costs. But be sure to go no lower than 50 – 55 degrees when you’re away and closer to 60 during severe cold to avoid frozen pipes.

Home Water Conservation and Preparation

Take Precautions to Avoid Frozen Pipes

Speaking of frozen pipes, when they thaw and burst you can be left with a major water bill and a severe mess to clean up. On top of maintaining the minimum temperature setting above, you should also the following to prevent issues:

  • Open cabinet and closet doors in the kitchen and bathroom(s). Doing so will allow the warm air from your heating system to reach the plumbing.
  • Leave faucets dripping/trickling when you go to bed, particularly on severely cold nights. Even minimally running water helps prevent the pipes from freezing.

Look For and Repair Leaks

Small plumbing leaks may seem like a minor inconvenience—at first. However, they will add to your water bill over time and can only get worse if left unaddressed. Inspect your sinks and other fixtures for leaks and have them fixed ASAP to prevent further issues and higher costs.

Contact Delano Municipal Utilities for EAP and CWR Assistance

Delano Municipal Utilities (DMU) is here to serve you and everyone in our community. Using these home winterization tips, you can help prepare your household for the cold months ahead, as well as minimize your utility costs. Want to learn more? Join us and representatives from Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) for a seminar on saving money on winter energy bills:

Please call 763.972.0557 to register for this event. Contact us to learn more or with any questions.