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10 Tips for Being Eco-Friendly in the Winter

With rising inflation and heating bills, you'll want to ensure your home is as energy efficient and safe as possible

The winter months are right around the corner — meaning it’s time to prepare your home for the changing season. With rising inflation and heating bills, you’ll want to ensure your home is as energy efficient and safe as possible for you and your household. Here are 10 tips for being an eco-friendly homeowner this winter.

1. Reinsulate Your Home

Investing money in your home could reap seasons’ worth of savings — which is why you should consider reinsulating your attic, basement, crawl spaces and floors. Insulation prevents heat from escaping and ensures your house stays warm on even the coldest nights.

According to ENERGY STAR, homeowners can save 15% on heating and cooling with new insulation. Today’s insulation also comes in eco-friendly, recyclable materials like wool and cork.

2. Clean the Chimney

Fires emit harmful toxins that decrease air quality, such as carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide (CO2) and particulate matter (PM2.5). The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has found chimneys and fireplaces account for 29% of all residential heating equipment fires. As such, the NFPA recommends getting your chimney inspected once annually.

When you use your fireplace in the winter, firewood leaves unburned resin deposits in your chimney’s walls, making them highly flammable. You can reduce the risk of a chimney fire by cleaning the ashes after each use and hiring a professional to sweep the flue.

3. Use a Pellet Stove

An eco-friendly alternative to a wood-burning fireplace is a pellet stove. Pellet stoves cost about $1,000 and don’t require a chimney for ventilation. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) claims EPA-certified stoves are at least 50% more energy efficient and help reduce indoor wood smoke pollution, including CO2, methane and PM2.5.

4. Reverse the Ceiling Fans

Reversing your ceiling fans to run clockwise will help pull the warmer air from the ceiling. In turn, the heat will recirculate throughout the room more efficiently. Although not the easiest task, it’ll improve your home’s energy consumption and reduce your heating bills throughout the winter.

5. Invest in a Smart Thermostat

Adjusting your thermostat back by 7° to 10° Fahrenheit for eight hours daily can save you 10% on heating and cooling costs. In the winter, setting the thermostat to 68° F during the day and lower at night is even more efficient.

Consider a programmable thermostat for better temperature control in your home. In fact, an ENERGY STAR-certified smart thermostat can save you about $100 annually on your energy bills.

6. Replace Air Filters

Americans spend about 62% of their time inside, where pollutants are two to five times higher than outdoor levels. While you should be cleaning your air filters regularly, swapping them out more frequently during the winter is essential since you’ll be running your heating system all the time. Doing so will ensure better air quality and more energy-efficient HVAC operations.

7. Upgrade Older Windows

You can lose about 25% of your indoor heat with older windows. However, upgrading them with energy-efficient models will keep colder air out, lock warm air in and reduce heating costs.

Vinyl, wood and fiberglass offer better insulation, while storm windows include an additional pane to seal the air from both directions. Although energy-efficient windows are more expensive, they’ll improve temperature comfort inside the home.

8. Weatherize Plumbing

Drain the hoses and air conditioner pipes before the temperatures dip below freezing. If you use a window AC unit, empty the system, turn off the valve and store the unit indoors to prevent a draft. You’ll also want to turn off your outdoor faucet valves. Preventing frozen pipes is essential to avoid significant damage to your home.

9. Stop Door Drafts

Block air leakages under doorways by weatherstripping your doors. Door seal strips are affordable, easy to install and aid indoor climate control. If you don’t wish to purchase weatherstripping strips, a rolled-up towel in front of the door gap will also prevent drafts. Ensure your doors sit in their frames correctly and tighten the hardware if necessary. Little tweaks can go a long way for energy efficiency.

10. Swap Light Bulbs

Shorter days and longer nights mean you’ll probably leave the lights on more often, so swap out incandescent light bulbs for light-emitting diode bulbs instead. The U.S. Department of Energy says LEDs are more energy efficient and last 25 times longer than standard lighting. You’ll want to take advantage of the annual savings with LEDs.

Winterize Your Home for an Eco-Friendly Season

Adopting small changes to your seasonal routine is easier than you think. By winterizing your home for enhanced energy efficiency, you can yield better savings, comfortability and protection for your entire household.

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