Easy ways to save money and energy

MADISON — Whether we get relatively mild weather or another Polar Vortex, one thing’s for certain: Another Wisconsin winter is on the way, and it’s going to get cold. With that cold comes many opportunities for warmth, energy and money to slip out of your home and bank account.

“Warm air is always looking for an escape route,” said Matt Landi, science and policy associate at Clean Wisconsin. “For instance, up to 25 percent of your home’s heat sneaks out through small cracks and crevices around doors, windows, even electrical outlets.”

But luckily, there are some simple, quick ways to keep your house warm while spending less on your heating bill. Here are six easy ways to get started:

  • Keep the heat you pay for. To keep heat from escaping, lock and weatherstrip your windows and raise the threshold or use draft snakes in front of your doors to minimize your losses. Check for other leaks around faucets and pipes on your home’s exterior as well and fill them with caulk or another sealant to maximize energy efficiency.
  • Let the sun shine. During the day, open your curtains to soak up the incoming light, and close them at night to hold that heat in while keeping the cold out. Consider purchasing inexpensive insulating curtain panels for added benefit.
  • Flip the switch. Ever wonder what that little switch on the ceiling fan is for? It reverses the fan’s rotation so that warm air is pushed away from the ceiling toward the floor. This simple step can save 15 percent on energy costs during the winter. Remember to keep the fan on low so it doesn’t feel drafty.
  • Adjust the temperature. Use a programmable thermostat to make your energy use reflect your schedule. While at home, keep the temperature as low as comfortable, and when away or in bed, set your home’s temperature up to 10 or 15 degrees lower. Adjusting your heat to reflect your schedule can save up to 10 percent on your bills each year.
  • Check your fireplace. When not in use, keep the damper closed to keep warm air from escaping.
  • Clean the filters. Dirty furnace filters restrict airflow in your furnace and minimize its efficiency, so replace filters as recommended. Additionally, ensuring that your furnace is clean and tuned up can save up to 5 percent on your heating bill.