People don’t typically think of San Diego when they think of winter, but in several areas of the county, temperatures can drop significantly. Cooler weather in San Diego tends to be only during the months of December, January, and February, but these three months can have a big impact on your energy usage, leading to expensive utility bills. Don’t let the cold of the winter freeze your wallet when there are easy DIY strategies that can solve the problem. Your energy bill can drop along with the temperatures, we promise! Although you might find yourself turning up the heat in your home this winter, don’t worry - there are a handful of home maintenance tips to winterize your home and ensure your energy bill stays low.
1. Take Advantage of the Sunshine
If you’re home consistently during the daytime, avoid caving by turning on the heat and using lamps. Open your curtains and/or blinds, and let the light shine! Not only can the sun help heat a room, but using natural light will eliminate the need to turn on lights - further saving energy. Added bonus: natural light is better for our eyes, energy, and mood vs artificial light!
2. Bring in Compact Fluorescent Lamps
Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) are a great replacement for incandescent bulbs because they provide the same amount of light while using at least 75% less energy. These bulbs reduce energy because they don’t use heat, whereas incandescent bulbs spend 90% of their energy using heat to function. CFL’s cost more than their antiquated counterparts, but over their lifetime they will save money by reducing your energy bill. Another pro? They last 10 times longer, too!
3. Utilize Occupancy Sensors
Occupancy sensors are usually inexpensive; they can sense a room and adjust the lighting and temperature based on whether there is a person detected in the room. Not only does it provide added ease to your life, but you’ll notice a significant dip in energy usage thanks to simple upgrades in home automation. Just a few years ago, this kind of technology was expensive. Flash forward to today, there are tons of brands to choose from and automating your San Diego home to be more energy efficient is easier than you think. If you’re pre-planning a home remodel in San Diego, talk to your contractor about installing sensors and other technological optimizations during the process.
4. Adjust Your Thermostat
This one is simple, but often the most simple practices can make the biggest differences. Keep the thermostat down in the winter to use less heat. Should be simple, right? But when temperatures rise or fall beyond our personal comfortability, it can be easy to cave in! Set a rule in your household for when the heat and and air get turned on. In the winter, for example, you can collectively decide to turn on the heat when the temperature falls below 60 degrees, or if it gets hotter than 87 degrees during Summer (choose what works best for you). Thankfully during the winter, it’s easier to bundle up and avoid turning on the heater!
5. Operate Programmable Devices
Programmable devices such as thermostats or time clocks will automatically control temperatures on your heating and air conditioning equipment – saving you time and money! Make sure that these devices are up to date and functioning at their best in order to benefit your wallet. Did you know setting the thermostat 7-10 degrees lower for eight hours a day can save up to 10% a year.
6. Use Fewer Electronics
This one is tough. It seems like nowadays, it’s getting more and more difficult to stay away from all things electronic. But not only is it a highly beneficial form of self-care to give yourself breaks from the TV, Computer, or cell phone - but you will notice savings on your electricity bill! Another way to reduce the use of electronics is to scan your home for smaller devices that are used infrequently and can be unplugged. Think: toasters, table lamps, fans, blenders, coffee machines, and toaster ovens. You’d be surprised at the amount of energy that electronics use even when they are left plugged into the wall.
7. Check Your Water Heater
A reduction of 10 degrees Fahrenheit can save up to 5% on water heating costs – 120 degrees Fahrenheit is a sufficient temperature for most common, everyday uses. If it has been a while since you’ve checked your water heater, this can be a simple and easy place to start in order to notice a difference in your SDG&E bill this winter.
8. Fill Up the Dishwasher
We hope this is something you’re doing all year around, but do your due diligence to wait until the dishwasher is full before turning it on. Dishwashers are more efficient when they are full and use less water than hand-washing. Who wants to hand wash dishes anyway?
9. Identify Leaks and Gaps
A careful investigation of your home may reveal pockets where warm air can escape from the home, and likewise cold air can make its way in. Any leaks should be filled with caulk. Be sure to check around chimneys, furnace flues, pipes, electrical outlets, ducts within your HVAC system, windows and doors. Spray foam can be used for any larger openings. This is also a good time to identify any areas or rooms that might need additional insulating.
10. Reverse House Fans
Believe it or not, the direction the ceiling fan spins can affect the temperature of the room. In the winter the fan should be set to turn counter-clockwise to push the warm air from the ceiling down. In the summer, set the fan to a clockwise direction.
11. Maintain Your Utilities
Cleaning the condensing coil on your fridge is one quick way to improve efficiency. The filters of the furnace should also be changed regularly. Here’s a quick how-to on cleaning the condensing coil on your refrigerator. For homeowners in San Diego with furnaces, cleaning your furnace filter every two months can increase its efficiency by 50%.
12. Depend on Energy Star
Energy Star appliance models have more energy-efficient compressors as well as better insulation and temperature controls. You can identify the energy star mark directly on the yellow EnergyGuide label. Each year, Americans help save billions of dollars on energy usage and prevent greenhouse gas emissions by purchasing appliances with this label.