As North Americans enter the coldest months of the year, many of them are taking the question of how to improve the energy efficiency of their homes more seriously.
In Canada and the northern United States, where temperatures can drop well below freezing and keeping homes heated can be a major expense, energy efficiency is about more than just being environmentally friendly; it is a matter of economic good sense.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways families who want to make their homes more efficient can get started this month. Efficiency doesn’t need to mean blowing in new insulation or getting a new roof (though these things can help in the long run). Small, easy changes can add up to have a serious impact on energy use, and you can start with the most natural one of all: making the most of natural energy.
As anyone whose home was designed to take optimal advantage of the sun’s rays knows, one of the easiest ways to keep your home warm in winter is to maximize the amount of natural heat and light is taken in and to ensure that as much of it as possible is retained.
This doesn’t require a major investment of resources: you can start by simply making sure that you are strategic about keeping curtains open so light can get in, and then closing them as soon as dusk arrives so that the heat doesn’t immediately escape.
But if you really want to take maximal advantage of natural heat, you should upgrade your windows this winter to take advantage of new energy efficient technology. The latest vinyl windows provide incredible insulation, and they are also designed to trap as much of the sun’s heat in your house as possible while blocking out harmful UV rays.
While trapping more natural energy is one place to start, it is also possible to make major progress on efficiency but cutting back on the energy you use.
There is a growing number of products on the market designed to help your home use less energy, from low-flow shower heads that reduce the amount of hot water you use to programmable thermostats that make sure you don’t pour hundreds of dollars into heating your house when you aren’t home. One way to move toward a more energy efficient home is to commit to installing one of these features every season, so you are constantly taking small steps towards an efficient future.
Most homeowners are not going to be able to afford to completely retrofit their homes to make them 100% energy efficient. But this doesn’t mean progress cannot be made this winter. Conserving natural heat and upgrading to energy saving windows is a simple, affordable way to start conserving heat, and when paired with investments in tools to help you reduce other areas of energy use, you can start to make changes you will notice.
Energy efficiency should be a long-term goal for all homeowners. Not only does it help the environment, but it’s also good for your bottom line. This January, start the month on a positive foot by exploring some of the ways you can improve your home’s energy efficiency.