When it comes to winter heating efficiency, little things can add up to big savings

Preparing your home for winter weather can lead to big savings on your heating bill.

“None of this is rocket science, but little actions taken together really can add up to big energy savings,” said Lauren Urbanek, senior energy policy advocate for the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The NRDC advises on everything from using programmable thermostats to making kitchen cooking adjustments and unplugging “energy vampires.”

Do you know where to look for leaks?

Windows and doors are just the most obvious culprits.

Cold air can get in — and heat can escape — any place where a hole has been cut in drywall. For instance:

  • Electrical outlets.
  • Recessed lighting.
  • Around plumbing, cables and wires.

Quick fixes include:

  • Caulking.
  • Window film.
  • Weather stripping.

Also, check whether there’s sufficient insulation in your at attic, walls and around ductwork.

In your kitchen

Avoid opening the oven frequently to check on baked goods. Instead, consider other cooking options, such as:

  • A crockpot.
  • A toaster oven.
  • An instapot/pressure cooker.

What about your HVAC?

Check furnace filters monthly to ensure they’re not clogged. A filter that looks dirty probably isn’t drawing air efficiently, Urbanek said.

Programmable thermostats can save in energy costs, but Urbanek recommends you check to make sure your heater is compatible; most are.

Beware of energy-sucking ‘vampires’

If you look around in a dark room and see things that are lit up, they’re pulling energy when they may not need to be.

Individually that may not be a big deal, but Urbanek observes that it can add up if households have three or four TVs hooked up with cable boxes, as well as DVD players and streaming devices.

Do an energy audit

Energy often gets wasted by things people don’t think about, don’t know about or don’t have insight into, Urbanek said. So the NRDC recommends that you bring in a professional to do an energy audit of your home.

In Virginia, Dominion Energy has a program that offers potential financial incentives to help offset costs for installing improvements recommended after an audit done by a Dominion-approved contractor.

Pepco has a free home energy checkup for customers and a Home Energy Savings Program for Maryland customers.

BG&E’s home energy checkup might even result in energy-saving measures being installed in your home at no additional cost, such as LED light bulbs, faucet aerators, efficient-flow shower heads and water heater pipe insulation.

You can find information on incentives offered nationwide by state on the North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center’s website, funded by the U.S. Energy Department.

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