During the winter season energy conservation is crucial since heating accounts for the greatest use of energy in Colorado homes. Before the cold weather sets in you should perform a quick inspection of your home. Simply dampen your hand and place it in locations such as attic hatches, baseboards, corners of rooms, cracks, doors, fireplace dampers, outlets, outdoor faucets (make sure these are tightly closed and all hoses have been detached), switch plates, and windows. Your hand will feel cold near a draft. Better yet, borrow a thermal leak detector from your local County Extension Office. Then seal windows, doors, and other leaks with caulking, weatherstripping, spray foam, or other material as needed.
Note that unless you have mechanical ventilation for your home – like with a heat or energy recovery ventilator – you can seal a home too tightly. For this reason, it is best to consult with a professional energy auditor before sealing your home to any significant degree.
Some other simple strategies to improve the energy efficiency of your home in winter are:
- Set your thermostat as low as comfortable. Use a programmable thermostat to adjust temperature at night when you are sleeping and when you are out of the house. But make sure the temperature is not so low that pipes could break.
- Close the fireplace damper unless you are using the fireplace.
- Close curtains and shades at night and open them on sunny winter days.
- Have your furnace checked before winter. Regularly check furnace filters and replace them every month or so during the heating season.
- Remove any obstructions blocking heating registers.
- Seal any gaps in your ductwork with a liquid duct mastic.
- If you have single-paned windows, use a window insulator kit that can be inexpensively purchased at a hardware store.
- Install compact fluorescent lamps and string LED lights during the holidays.
- If your hot water heater is warm to the touch, wrap it with an insulating blanket specifically designed for this purpose.
- Finally, adding insulation is a larger project but can significantly reduce the loss of heat out of your home.