Anticipate the spring with energy efficiency best practices
For many of us, it may not be particularly warm and cozy outside right now, but spring is, in fact, on its way. (We promise.) The vernal equinox is just a few days away, and after that, the weather will change before you know it. With this in mind, it will be wise for you to get a head start on adjusting your home's energy usage so that you'll be all set for the spring.
Here are a few home energy efficiency tips to help you get started while the seasons are transitioning:
Put away space heaters ASAP
Some people, in lieu of turning the thermostat up and risking a significant increase in their utility bill, buy one or more space heaters for the rooms they need to be most comfortable in and keep the temperature of the whole house down around 62 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit. This isn't a bad winter tactic by any means: Popular Mechanics states that every degree you lower your thermostat below 70 represents a 3 percent decrease in overall heating costs. But these appliances aren't necessary in the spring.
If you can bite the bullet and withstand a slightly-colder-than-average household for a few weeks in mid-March and early April while winter gives way to spring, stop using the space heaters immediately. If it's unseasonably cold at this time, of course, this won't work. But if not, you'll be glad that you started your cost-saving habits early when summer comes and you need to run an air conditioner full blast!
Get your windows ready
Sealing any gaps in your home is just as important for preventing unwanted hot air intrusions as it is for keeping out the cold in the winter. The Department of Energy recommends caulking and weatherstripping for windows to cover any compromised spots, and specifically cautions against the use of window treatments, as they don't actually prevent hot or cold air from entering the household.
Also, the sun will start doing more work in the waning days of winter, so you can rely on it to take a bit of the burden off of your heating system. Keep the curtains open at all times on sunny days!
Consider a programmable thermostat
Nobody's perfect, and there is perhaps no area of life in which that sentiment is more true than remembering small but vital household tasks and chores. Forgetting to turn down the thermostat before everyone in your house goes to bed is a classic example. Everyone's done it once or twice (or a hundred times, perhaps).
Purchasing and installing a programmable thermostat can greatly mitigate – if not totally eliminate – this issue. According to Popular Mechanics, these tools range widely in price – some as inexpensive as $25, others, with smart features that adjust the temperature by learning your daily routine. Whichever you choose, using one of these can reduce your heating bill by 10 percent or less.
Install a tankless water heater (or two)
Wasted resources equate to wasted money more often than not, and, unfortunately, it's easy to use too much hot water no matter what season it is. If you find that you use a particular water appliance a great deal but are sparing with others, you may want to consider installing an individual tankless water heater for that spot, be it your dishwasher or the shower.
Tankless water heaters, according to statistics from the Energy Department, can increase the efficiency of your hot water usage by 8 to 14 percent in homes using 86 gallons of water per day – family households, for example. Homes that use 41 gallons of water daily or less, meanwhile, will have 24 to 34 percent greater energy efficiency than a traditional water heater. This is accomplished by eliminating the tank from the equation – the middleman, if you will – and heating water from your local source directly at the point of release. Because warmer weather typically means more frequent showers, you would do well to address the issue now by upgrading your water heater.