It's that time again, unfortunately. The leaves are changing colour, the Halloween candy is stocked in your local grocery store, and the kids have gone back to school. This also means that the temperatures are cooling and the thermostat can't be set to zero anymore. Fall is a great time to start getting ready for winter because it is still warm and bright enough to be handy around, and outside, the house.
Here are some tips on how to save money on your fall energy bills, to prepare you for when the high energy bills tend to really hit you, in the winter!
Clean your Dryer
Yes, the washer and dryer that you use on a regular basis need maintaining too. This simple project is easy to do and necessary, since drying clothes outdoors is more difficult in the fall and winter. The dryer is one of the appliances in the home that uses the most electricity. Of course, you should be cleaning the lint trap with each load, but you should also be cleaning the dryer duct as well. For a visual (I warned you) of the gunk that can collect in the drying machine duct, check out this post from Treehugger here. A testament to the difference it makes when you clean the gunk out of the duct, the author of that post said a bundle of wet blankets that used to take 90 minutes to dry now only takes 25 minutes.
Reverse Your Drape Habits
In the spring and summer, it works best if you keep the drapes and blinds closed during the day and then open them up during the night. This keeps your place cooler during the day. In the fall and winter, you should do the opposite. Keep the drapes and blinds open during the day to allow heat to come in and then close the blinds at night to make sure that the heat does not escape. Heat coming from the sun is the best because well, it is free!
You Like it Hot, Hot, Hot?
According to the United States Department of Energy, water heating is the second largest expenditure of energy in your home and on average, it makes up 18% of your energy bill. To reduce your hot water usage, you have a few choices.
- Reduce your overall hot water consumption (install a low flow shower head to reduce the hot water used during those hot showers)
- Switch to a more energy efficient model (there are many rebates offered from your province to switch to more energy efficient models of hot water heating), for example, an on-demand tank-less hot water heater is great because it takes up less space (you can just stick it on a wall instead of devoting a room to it) and boils hot water on demand instead of constantly. I had a tank-less hot water heater and I was a big fan!
- Insulate your hot water heater - The United States Department of energy recommends that you insulate the first six feet of the pipes from the hot water tank as well as insulate the tank itself. You should follow the manufacturer's recommendations for insulation.
Of course, if you live in an apartment where hot water is included in the strata or maintenance fee, this won't reduce your energy bills but it will still be great for the environment!
Check the Attic
Check the insulation of your attic, because your attic door can be the culprit for up to 15% of your home's heat loss. Even though your attic is very insulated, if the attic door or attic hatch is not well insulated, this can reduce the insulation's R-factor by 27% (even though the total square area of the attic door is minuscule compared to the rest of the attic), according to the Environmental Solutions Group. To solve this, you can buy an attic stair cover or add heavy insulation to this area so that it can be covered as well.
Bargainmoosers, do you have any other prepping-for-fall-and-winter habits to reduce your energy bills?
(photo credit: jurvetson)