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ATCOenergy's Guide to Reducing Your Energy Bill This Winter

Once the temperature drops the heat gets cranked up, showers turn hotter, space heaters leave storage and our fireplaces run non-stop. We can’t stop winter from coming. And with all the skating, skiing and spicy hot chocolate involved, why would we want to?  

We can help you make your home as energy-efficient as possible. And it’s actually a lot easier than you might think.  

By going through your whole home and keeping things efficient before the temperatures really drop down, you can save on your heating bill and protect appliances from the wear and tear of winter usage. 

Here are ATCOenergy’s top energy-saving tips for the winter: 

 

Check the Siding 

Ok, so the truth is you can’t add insulation to your existing siding. Hopefully, someone purchased great siding with quality insulation when you or the previous owner built the house. If this isn’t the case, you can still check for problem areas and spot fix them to help your energy situation.  

Whether it’s rotten parts of wood siding, actual cracks that let heated air leak out, or shrunken, cracked caulking, you should take note of these issues and try to address them before the snow hits or on slightly warmer days.  

 

Windows & Doors 

We’ll start with a big one here: if your doors or windows don’t close properly, they might need to be replaced. If they open and shut with relative ease, most of the other winter heat issues caused by windows and doors can be fixed with a can of exterior caulk.  

Weatherstripping can also help correct these situations, and you’ll want to make sure you’re addressing problems on both sides of your doors and windows. 

If you’re still feeling a draft, even after caulking and weather stripping, it might be wise to invest in some heavy curtains to aid in keeping your home warm.   

 

Chimney Heath 

A wood-burning fireplace is such a treat for those cold winter days. While many use natural gas as a pilot, they use much less energy than a furnace or electrical heater. Opting for fire heat every once in a while can save you precious pennies. 

If you do have a working wood-burning fireplace then your chimney needs to be cleaned out every year in order to stay safe. A highly flammable substance called creosote will build up in chimneys with wood-burning fires and you’ll need to make sure it’s cleared out.  

 

Get Your Thermostat in Order 

One of the primary causes of poor energy efficiency in the winter months is the failure to properly set up your home’s thermostat. We’re tempted to just crank the heat during the cold days, but this always leads to consuming more energy than you need to.   

Many modern thermostats and furnace systems are built to take things like our sleep and work schedules into account when heating the house. Investing in a new thermostat can help ensure that your home’s heating system is working smart rather than hard this winter.  

 

Change the HVAC Filters 

This is an important part of winter readiness that often gets overlooked. In fact, your furnace filter should be changed at least every 4 – 6 weeks during the winter season and at least once during every other season. A good rule of thumb is to remove your filter and hold it up to the light. If you cannot see light through it, then it’s time to change it.   

When these filters get dirty and clogged up, your entire HVAC has to work harder and gets damaged while increasing your energy bills. Maintaining your furnace with a yearly tune-up can save you in energy costs and having to deal with a broken furnace on Christmas Eve... 

 

Clean the Fridge Coils 

Ok, this is where we start to lose folks, but please trust us — this is an unspoken key to creating a more energy-efficient home. Your fridge coils are no doubt clogged with dirt, grime, animal hair, and food particles — all of which add dollars and cents to your heating bill every month.  

Coils are always located on the back or bottom of your fridge, and they look like an intricate grill grate. They can be cleaned out using a vacuum or a coil brush.   

 

Laundry Management

Make sure when you do laundry that you’re always doing full loads. Cutting one load of washing per week, even if you're already using cold water only, and you could save $18 a year on your laundry costs. Speaking of cold water, use it! This gives your water heater a rest and eliminates energy consumption. 

The clothing dryer is an energy guzzler and costs you loads every year. Try skipping the dryer every once in a while and hang dry your clothes instead. Using an indoor drying rack has the added bonus of adding some much needed moisture into our dry Alberta air. But if you are going to use the dryer, add a towel. This little trick helps speed up the drying time! 

 

Close Vents in Unused Rooms

Have a spare guest room you don’t use unless the in-laws are in town? A storage room you barely enter? Maybe the kids are away at college? Whatever the reason, if you have a room in your house that people rarely enter, you’re wasting valuable energy heating it in the wintertime. Closing off the vents to about 25% will prevent you from paying to heat uninhabited space. (Just make sure it’s kept warm enough that the pipes don’t freeze!) All that redirected warmth can flow to the rooms you use the most! 

 

Ask for Help 

It only takes a few hours to make your home more energy-efficient and ready for the next few months. You’ll thank yourself on winter’s chilliest evenings. Chat with an ATCOenergy advisor today about all the ways you can maintain and fine-tune some of those potential energy-sucking hot zones.