Lower your utility bills with these winter home energy tips

Lower your utility bills with these winter home energy tips

Winter can be rough for many reasons. Travel can be made more difficult by snow and ice, not to mention the fact that you need to clear driveways and sidewalks to even get out in your vehicle, and bundling up can sometimes feel like a chore itself.

But most homeowners are keenly aware of one way winter can really show its face: in your monthly utility bills.

Homeowners with older houses or homes that aren’t equipped or prepared to withstand the harsh winter season know all too well that a few DIY steps here, and maybe a quick call to a heating professional there, can be the difference in saving money or shelling out hundreds of extra dollars on a heating bill.

All of this especially true up here in Northwest Iowa, where winters can be very long and very cold. Home heating bills can creep up – and even explode higher – thanks to the winter season in our region. However, there are some preparatory steps any homeowner can take to make sure your home is ready for winter and energy efficient.

Trust us, your bank account – and your furnace – will thank us when the lower utility bills start to show up in the mail and keep the furnace from being overworked. All you have to do is follow these tips to winterize your house.

Use the sun to your advantage

While letting the sun into your home isn’t the best idea in the summer months, you can use that heat from the rays of sunshine to your advantage now that it’s cold outside.

First, identify any windows that face the south. These are the locations of your home that will let in the most heat from sunlight. Keep these windows uncovered during the day to let in as much light and warmth as possible. Just remember to keep the windows covered, preferably with thicker curtains at night so as not to let heat escape through the windows or cold air to enter the home.

If you happen to be reading this during the early spring planting season, then you might want to plan for future years and establish several deciduous trees on this same end of your home. In the winter, when the leaves have dropped, you will get the warming benefits of the sun, while the leaves will keep the same sunlight out of your house more effectively during other portions of the year when you want to keep your home cool or less warm.

Seal or close off any air leaks and drafts

As we have hinted at with windows, warm air loss is a considerable factor when it comes to making your furnace work harder in the winter and increasing your utility bills.

Windows can be the primary culprit of heat loss, as some estimates suggest as much as 18% of your home’s heat is lost through windows, but they are not the only reason warm air leaks out – or cold air seeps in. Sealing up or closing off these air leaks and drafts can keep you much more comfortable this time of year.

Here’s what you need to check to eliminate these types of problems.

Doors leading outside

Doors that go directly outside or to unheated spaces, including garages or mud rooms, can often let cold air enter your house even when the doors themselves are closed. Feel around the outer edges of the door to find any drafts coming through. If you feel cold air, you likely need to consider replacing weather stripping. Luckily, this is an easy DIY job, as such stripping can be found at many hardware or home supplies stores.


Again, we come to the windows. Whether you have an older home, or just older windows, cold air can often find its way into a house through these points. You have a couple of options, both again quick DIY tasks:

  1. Seal the frame of the window with plastic cling wrap.
  2. Cover the entire window with window film, which like weather stripping is also easy to find and relatively cheap.

Close doors to unused areas

If you’re looking to maximize heating efficiency, then you don’t want to make the furnace work harder than it has to by heating rooms or areas of the home you seldom or never are in. This can include attics, basements or unused bedrooms.

When you aren’t in these rooms, be sure to close the doors that lead to them and also consider closing vents over air ducts in the rooms, too. This will send more of the heated air that travels through the ductwork to other areas of the house.

Make sure vents are clear

When considering the rooms of your house that you or others are in frequently, make sure that any vents are kept clear.

Check that air registers and radiators don’t have furniture, draps, rugs, toys or other items covering them. It’s also a good idea to keep these free of dust to allow for optimal air flow.

Switch ceiling fan direction

Another useful tip for helping warm air spread throughout your living space is to turn on ceiling fans. Just make sure the blades are set to turn clockwise. This helps pull cooler air up. The air will heat and then sink back down as it cools.

Little known fact: using fans in the winter can save up to 15% on energy costs.

Keep an eye (and ear) on your furnace

Finally, no home can be kept warm without a running furnace. So, while taking other steps to keep your house energy efficient and comfortable during the winter, you will also want to watch and listen for signs that your furnace may be having trouble.

If you hear any rumbling, clanking, scraping or other out-of-the-ordinary noises, then it’s likely time to bring in a heating pro to diagnose any potential problems. The same can be said for when the pilot light is off, there’s more dust build-up or the furnace doesn’t seem to be sending out air that’s warm enough.

If you experience any of these issues, give Comfortec a call. We’ll have one of our experienced, certified technicians out to get everything up and running again in no time – and with as little hassle for you as possible.

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