There’s Snow Place Like Home
Protect your home this winter from frozen plumbing or the weight of snow and ice with home insurance through AAA.
Keep the winter chill where it belongs: outdoors.
There are the take-it-to-the-next-level ways to stay warm, like installing a smart thermostat—when you’re really ready to go the extra mile to save on your energy bill. And then there’s the tried and true advice for saving on heating your home, like throwing on some extra sweaters.
But the question is: When do you go all out, and when do you use what you already have? Here are some ways to stay warm and spend less during winter, to help you determine the answer:
Five ways to prepare your home for winter.Get the Tips
A smart thermostat helps you save on your energy bill—about $131 to $145 a year, according to a study by Nest Thermostat—and helps you use the heat in your home more efficiently. Smart thermostats learn your behaviors, so they know the best times to lower or raise the temperature, all while maintaining a comfortable environment. Plus, you’re always in control with access to the dial on your smartphone.
But if your heating and cooling system isn’t necessarily new, you could spend a lot of money trying to install a new dial that isn’t compatible. That said, consider hiring a professional before you replace your current thermostat to ensure compatibility, any wiring needs and whether the thermostat will need a new location in your home.
Ceiling fans during winter? Yes, you read that correctly. This is actually one of the simpler ways to stay warm that not only puts the heat you have in your home to good use, but it can also help save money—up to 10 percent on your heating costs.
Here’s how it works: Hot air rises, while cold air sinks. Simple, right? Well, kind of—until ceiling fans are involved. Your fan’s blades are angled, which helps to force air up or down—based on which direction the blades are moving. During the winter, your blades should move clockwise (or reverse), so cooler air rises and warmer air is forced down into your living quarters.
Oh, and we have good news: On most fans, there’s a little switch that does the work for you.
The Department of Energy’s research shows insulated cellular shades can reduce heat loss through windows by 40 percent or more. But not all window coverings are created equal. Some window coverings, such as blinds, are better for cost savings in the summer.
According to the Department of Energy, about 25 to 30 percent of a home’s heating is lost through the windows. But closing the drapes actually can help to keep that heat in—while opening the drapes during the day has a greenhouse effect in your home, by warming the indoor air with the sun’s light.
The average cost of a home energy audit is $397, and can run between $100 and $1,650, according to HomeAdvisor.com. While that cost might seem hefty, the Department of Energy’s research suggests it can actually help you save between 5 and 30 percent each year on your energy costs.
Here’s what to expect: An auditor will conduct a roof-to-basement investigation, looking for loose fits around walls, joints and under the eaves outside of your home. Then, the inspection will move indoors to check the attic for leaks and check insulation. Once the audit is complete, you’ll receive a full report on any upgrades your home might need to be a more energy-efficient machine.
These are some of the more common ways to stay warm during the winter: Add weather stripping around windows, seal any visible cracks with caulk or keep it simple by placing rolled blankets or towels against any doors or windows where you notice a draft.
And if you’re planning a trip to The Home Depot or Walmart for winterizing supplies, shop online instead to earn AAA Dollars that can be redeemed on select AAA purchases or applied to your annual membership renewal.