Monday, December 5, 2011:  Updated Monday October 19, 2013

Winter Tune-Up for Your Home and Appliances

Winter time is an expensive time of year. Holiday shopping, family gets together, extended traveling. Why not save some green this year by lowering your winter utility bills.

Winter Tune-up for Home Appliances:  

Clean the glass on light fixtures and light bulbs: You will be amazed at how much more light your fixtures will emit when the dead insects are removed and the glass is cleaned. It will seem so bright, you might even want to replace the bulb with a lower wattage one, saving even more energy.

My wife calls all our vehicles and appliances zombies because they never die. I keep repairing them. Most of the time when an appliance dies, it was because it wasn’t maintained properly. The repair is usually an easy fix. You just need to be willing to tear into it and try to fix it. It’s dead anyway, what’s the risk in trying to bring it back to life?

Clean out the intake air vent on your hair drier. It’s gross but so what? Just remove all that sticky dust and hair that is clogging it all up. You will be so amazed at how much better the hair drier works. You may only need to run it on the low setting until it starts to clog up again. Cleaning it also makes it last longer. Better air flow keeps the heating element cooler and the exhaust air warmer.

While you are at it, remove the hair and string that is wrapped around the brush on your upright vacuum cleaner.

Clean out intake vents on your fireplace, refrigerator and overhead fans. And for heaven sakes, replace your furnace filter.

Just because you hear cold wind howling outside doesn't mean you have to feel it inside.

Insulating and air-sealing your home will really help reduce heating costs, especially when it is cold and windy.  In theory, a perfectly insulated and sealed house with lots of south-facing windows would not even need a furnace in the winter months even when it is 0°F. outside.  Daily solar radiation would be sufficient to heat the living space. There are however practical limitations in making this perfect home.

Make sure all windows and doors close properly and don’t leak air.

Buy foam inserts and install them behind all the exterior wall plates for plug sockets and light switches. It doesn’t take long to do, nor does it cost much but it makes a huge difference in reducing air leakage into your home. Your home will immediately feel less drafty.  

LED Christmas lights are getting less expensive each season. Each year, I used to put up 4 strings of twenty-five 7-watt Italian Christmas bulbs on our roof. That’s 700 watts worth of Christmas lights on the house. The Christmas tree had almost 600 watts worth of lights on it. The tree lights were running an average of 10 hours a day and the roof lights were on 8 hours a night unless we forgot to turn them off.  Weekends, the lights were on even longer. One month of electric Christmas cheer cost nearly $40 in electricity.

We have since upgraded to roof and tree to LED lights. Only now, the house has 14+ strands. The tree still has the same 10 or so strands on it. Holiday cheer has gone up with more lights burning, except now it only costs about $2 for the season. The LEDs paid for themselves in electrical savings alone after the 2nd season.