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Power Down: Hacks for Keeping Winter Energy Costs Low

For many, wintertime can be a budget buster. Spending more time indoors, running appliances, lighting holiday decorations, and cranking up the heat can send your energy bill soaring. While setting your thermostat to 68 degrees Fahrenheit and limiting laundry to off-peak hours can help keep costs low, there are a few often-overlooked tricks to cut back on energy consumption and stay warm all season long.

Reverse ceiling fans. 

You read that right. Ceiling fans act as a cool-down mechanism during summertime, but can help warm up your place in the wintertime simply by reversing the direction of rotation. It seems counterintuitive, but it’s not. During summer, ceiling fans should rotate counterclockwise to push cold air down in a column. By switching fans from counterclockwise to clockwise during winter, you’ll pull cool air up and displace the warm air that rises and collects near the ceiling, allowing it to flow toward the walls and floor. Operate the fan at a low speed to get the maximum benefit. 

Close those vents. 

Got a spare bedroom that nobody ever steps foot in? Switch the vent levers to the closed position to prevent the warm air from escaping into an unoccupied room, and close the door to contain the cold air. And don’t forget to look outside your house, too. Shutting exterior vents to crawl spaces above or below your house can keep chilly air from cooling your ceilings and floors. 

Hang thick curtains. 

As functional as they are appealing, thick, dramatic curtains can keep the cold air out and warm air in. Advanced, thermal-insulated curtains are made for this purpose. They contain an inner layer of thermal insulation sandwiched with additional layers of fabric on top. Curtains that are tightly woven in heavy cotton, velvet, and suede also work well. Just remember to open your curtains during the day and take advantage of all the free sunlight. Sunshine boosts your mood, relieves stress—and quickly heats your space. 

Replace air filters.

Replacing your air filters may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s estimated that only 18% of people living in North America change their filters according to the manufacturer’s guidelines. While the replacement schedule varies depending on your living situation and manufacturer’s directions, air filters should typically be replaced every 30 to 60 days. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that changing your air filter on a regular schedule can save you up to 15% on heating and cooling costs. Now that’s a hot value!