Fighting winter chill with efficiency tips

Alabama weather can be unpredictable, but there are a few ways you can make sure the weather has less of an impact on your budget. Check out a few steps you can take now to help make your home more energy efficient.

Mind the thermostat. This is one of the easiest ways to manage your home energy use. When heating your home, we recommend setting your thermostat to 68 degrees (or lower) when you’re home. When you’re sleeping or away for an extended period of time, try setting it between 58 and 62 degrees; there’s no need to kick up the heat when you’re away or sleeping and less active.

Button up your home. The Department of Energy estimates that air leaks account for 24-40 percent of the energy used for heating and cooling a home. Caulking and weather stripping around windows and doors are simple, cost-effective ways to increase comfort and save energy. If you can feel drafts while standing near a window or door, it likely needs to be sealed.

Use window coverings wisely. Open blinds, drapes or other window coverings during the day to allow natural sunlight to warm your home. Close them at night to keep the cold, drafty air out. If you feel cold air around windows, consider hanging curtains or drapes in a thicker material; heavier window coverings can make a significant difference in blocking cold outdoor air.

Consider your approach to appliance use. When combined, appliances and electronics account for a significant chunk of our home energy use, so assess how efficiently you’re using them. For example, if you’re running the dishwasher or clothes washer, only wash full loads. Be aware of electronic devices that consume energy even when they’re not in use, such as phone chargers or game consoles. Every little bit helps, so unplug them to save energy.

Think outside the box. If you’re still feeling chilly at home, think of other ways to warm up besides dialing up the thermostat. Add layers of clothing, wear thick socks and cuddle up under cozy blankets. You can even add layers to your home! If you have hard-surface flooring, consider purchasing an area rug to block cold air that leaks in through the floor.

Winter months often bring some of the highest energy bills of the year. By being proactive about saving energy, you can increase the comfort of your home and reduce monthly energy costs.