There’s no denying it. The temperatures outside are frigid. If you’re like me, in between your daydreams of the beach, a few nightmares pop in your head about your winter utility costs and how the polar weather is freezing your wallet. Luckily, for us worrywarts, Next Step Living has shared 7 ways to curb those winter utility costs, while you’re away!
Ready for a winter vacation? If you’re spending your holidays abroad, take 15 minutes before you head out the door to complete these easy energy-saving to-do’s. You might save enough to buy yourself a massage après-ski. Plus, you’ll be more relaxed knowing your home is hibernating safely while you’re away.
Turn down your thermostat. Depending on your home’s insulation, you can set your thermostats lower than usual. We recommend keeping it at a steady 55 degrees while you’re away, cutting your heating bill significantly. (Do keep in mind the hazards of frozen pipes.) Programmable thermostats, which may be installed at no cost during a home energy evaluation, will let you keep the heat low through your vacation but warm things up just in time for your return.
If you’ll be away for an extended period, consider turning off the water, draining the pipes and setting the thermostat even lower — but talk to a plumber first.
And your hot water heater (or put it in vacation mode). If your water heater is older than its warranty period, and especially if it’s showing signs of age such as leaks or rust, consider replacing it now to avoid the catastrophe of a ruptured tank while you’re away. Look for an Energy Star® model to save on the substantial cost of hot water, year-round.
Lower and close all your window treatments such as blinds, curtains and drapes, to hold heat in the house. You should also make sure to lock your windows as that will help further eliminate drafts with a tight seal. While you’re considering windows, be sure that they can hold up to the winter chill – double- or triple-pane ones are best.
Add insulation and air sealing. If your home has cracks or gaps that let in drafts, or if your insulation is lacking, there’s no better time to have the structure sealed and give it a warm blanket. You’ll reduce your heating (and cooling) bills year-round, and you’re more likely to avoid freezing pipes; this is especially important if you’ve turned down the thermostats.
Use light timers. If you leave lights on to discourage burglars, put them on timers rather than having them consume electricity 24 hours a day. Save even more power by swapping out your bulbs to high-efficiency bulbs such as CFLs and LEDs, available at low- or no-cost during a home energy evaluation.
Unplug everything you can or put your electronics on smart power strips. These power strips will both turn off your DVR when your TV is off and eliminate electricity leaks from equipment when it’s not in use.
Close the damper on your fireplace, if you have one. When you return from vacation, get in the habit of doing this after each fire, as soon as the ashes are completely cold.
About Next Step Living
One of the fastest-growing companies in the country, Next Step Living® is the leading provider of whole-home energy solutions in New England. Headquartered in Boston’s Innovation District, Next Step Living makes it easy and affordable for people to live in homes with a low environmental impact. A one-stop service provider for informed advice, funding guidance and expert work, Next Step Living partners with more than 400 municipalities, civic organizations and leading corporations to deliver energy-efficient and environmentally friendly solutions for better living. Since 2008, Next Step Living has helped New England homeowners achieve $20 million in energy savings, which is expected to grow to more than $100 million in the next five years. Next Step Living makes our world better. Please visit NextStepLiving.com for more information.
Photo Credit: Flickr/Magdalena Roeseler, midnightcomm,