According to the Your Energy Savings, nearly half of a family’s yearly energy costs are spent on heating and cooling their home. Many parts of the country are currently reaching for the thermostat and crank up the heat. The costs associated with chilly weather can skyrocket if you aren’t careful.

This winter you can be simultaneously kind to your bank account, AC and heating system and the environment by practising a few of our favourite free or inexpensive wintertime energy-saving techniques.

The following are tips can help to save your family financially on household electricity this winter.

1. The first place to start is with your thermostat.

Did you install a programmable thermostat? If you didn’t, do it as soon as possible. If you did, now is a good time to reevaluate the programming. Take some time to really think about when everybody gets up in the morning, when they leave the house, when they get home and when they go to bed. Take the time to learn how to program the thermostat to get the most out of it.

2. Tighten up windows and doors

Next, go around the house to each window and door and feel for the cold. You might even bring a disposable lighter with you and check for drafts. Did somebody open a window and forget to lock it tight? Is there a draft you didn’t notice before or get around to sealing? Plastic film on the windows can stop drafts and adds an extra layer of insulation even if you don’t have drafts.

3. Check the insulation in your attic

Often the area where the roof meets the floor of the attic (soffit) is the area most overlooked. Nobody wants to crawl into that tight space but it is commonplace for heat to leak up from downstairs. Then turn on the lights downstairs and leave the attic lights off, do you see any light? If you can see the light, heat can see a way to escape.

Always wear gloves and a mask over your mouth and nose while working with fibreglass insulation. Also, use baby powder over your body, it helps keep the glass fibres from getting in your skin.

4. Is your water heater turned up too high?

In some households, everybody takes a shower in the morning. The first person typically turns up the water heater and when the last person is finished the water heater is turned down for the next 22 hours or so.

Also, an insulation blanket on the water heater can save a lot of energy, especially if it is down in a cold basement.

5. Insulating lightswitches and outlets

At the hardware store, for a few dollars, you can buy little insulation pads for light switches and outlets. Go around to all your light switches and outlets that are on exterior walls and insulate them.

Another trick while you have the cover off the outlets, take a pen and mark the circuit breaker number that corresponds to that switch or outlet. This will save time and headaches next time you need to shut that breaker off.

Enjoy the winter, and remember with each cold spell and snow storm how much more you will appreciate spring!

Sarah Ann