It’s end of the year as we know it. Before you round up your friends for a wild holiday bash (did the radio just play “Jingle Bell Rock” again?), you might want to prep your home for the inevitable winter wonderland. As temperatures drop, your energy bills will start to climb — unless you’ve tackled a few of these important energy-saving fixes.
Do away with drafts
If you can keep the heat from leaking out of your house, your heating system won’t have to work as hard. Now’s the time to take care of drafty windows and doors (and other gaps and leaks) you’ve been avoiding.
For a relatively quick fix that won’t transform you into a stingy Santa, try weatherstripping, spray-foam insulation, plastic window film, heavy curtains, and even homemade door sealers — you know, those sand-filled fabric snake thingies. Ready for a serious investment? Make the upgrade to high-performance windows.
Keep your house in check
For a hundred bucks or less, you can install a Wi-Fi–connected programmable thermostat that will worry about all that energy efficiency stuff so you don’t have to. Honeywell’s thermostat can be expensive, but some states offer hefty rebates. Whichever model you bring home for the holidays, you’ll still be able to dial down the heat from your smartphone, even if you’re miles away chugging eggnog at the in-laws’.
But don’t forget to install a nifty energy monitor. (Awesome alert: it makes you feel like you’re living in a science experiment.) Usually $100 or less, the little gadget could be a money-saving wake-up call to cut back on long showers (no need if you install a low-flow shower head) and machine-drying each load of laundry (try an indoor clothesline or drying rack), or to turn off the lights (set a timer) and turn down the heat (dig out that Rudolph sweater from Grandma — or just throw more parties for extra body heat!).
Get the LED out
Feel the urge to deck the halls (and rooftop and front lawn and all the windows) a la Chevy Chase in Christmas Vacation? Then you should definitely consider switching to energy-efficient LED (light-emitting diode) lights. The advantages of an LED bulb over an incandescent bulb really add up:
- Brighter: Higher lumens-to-wattage ratio
- Longer lasting: 50,000 hours versus 1,000 hours
- Emit minimal heat: Truly cool to the touch, which can reduce risk of fires
If your winter days aren’t filled with gloomy skies, put that sun to work with a set of solar-powered Christmas LED lights. Yes, LEDs can generally cost three to five times more than incandescent bulbs, but just remind yourself that you’re a wise and practical adult making an investment who will be rewarded by lower energy bills.
Save the planet, get cash back
Believe it or not, the federal government wants to pay you for your energy-saving efforts. For real. Although the tax credit program for Energy Star products was pulled (boo) at the end of 2013, you can still be rewarded for your commendable eco-conscious ways. Check here for the latest updates on getting tax credits for the purchase and installation of renewable energy systems (photovoltaic array, wind turbine), geothermal heat pumps, fuel cells, and solar water heaters.