Conservation thermostat

Published on January 31st, 2008 | by Stephanie Evans


Winter Energy Conservation Tips for the Home

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When it’s icy outside, we step inside to shake off the cold, but keeping our homes heated can be very costly and energy intensive.

Don’t resign yourself to sitting in the cold just yet! You can have a warm, toasty winter without spending a fortune or helping to heat the planet beyond its comfort level…


During the winter weekends, check for opportunities to use these tips and improve your energy saving efforts. One of the simplest ways you can stay cozy and save energy is to inspect your house for drafts sneaking in from the outside.

  • Seal any leaks with insulation, caulking, weather stripping, and door snakes, or make your own Draft Stopper Snake.

These tips also help with optimal energy saving:

  • If your attic isn’t insulated, make sure to insulate the entrance so the cold doesn’t seep into your house from above.
  • Install ceiling fans and set them clockwise in winter, to help push warmer air down where you can enjoy it.
  • Set your thermostat to 65 F or lower, and wear layers of warm cotton clothing in dark colors that absorb light and heat.
  • Consider investing in a programmable thermostat that fulfills heating needs around your schedule. You set it so the heat kicks on for a specified amount of time before you arrive home or before you get up in the mornings.
  • Better yet, invite all of your friends over and have a winter gala. Rumor has it that each guest is the equivalent of a 175-watt heater. The more the merrier—and toastier!

[Image: Thermostat by Shutterstock]


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  • Mark D. Tyrol

    How To Reduce Your Heating Bills This Winter / Energy Conservation Begins at Home

    Imagine leaving a window open all winter long — the heat loss, cold drafts and wasted energy! If your home has a folding attic stair, a whole house fan or AC Return, a fireplace or a clothes dryer, that may be just what is occurring in your home every day.

    These often overlooked sources of heat loss and air leakage can cause heat to pour out and the cold outside air to rush in — costing you higher heating bills.

    Air leaks are the largest source of heating and cooling loss in the home. Air leaks occur through the small cracks around doors, windows, pipes, etc. Most homeowners are well aware of the benefits caulk and weatherstripping provide to minimize heat loss and cold drafts.

    But what can you do about the four largest “holes” in your home — the folding attic stair, the whole house fan or AC return, the fireplace, and the clothes dryer? Here are some tips and techniques that can easily, quickly and inexpensively seal and insulate these holes.

    Attic Stairs

    When attic stairs are installed, a large hole (approximately 10 square feet) is created in your ceiling. The ceiling and insulation that were there have to be removed, leaving only a thin, unsealed, sheet of plywood.

    Your attic space is ventilated directly to the outdoors. In the winter, the attic space can be very cold, and in the summer it can be very hot. And what is separating your conditioned house from your unconditioned attic? That thin sheet of plywood.

    Often a gap can be observed around the perimeter of the door. Try this yourself: at night, turn on the attic light and shut the attic stairway door — do you see any light coming through? These are gaps add up to a large opening where your heated/cooled air leaks out 24 hours a day. This is like leaving a window open all year round.

    An easy, low-cost solution to this problem is to add an attic stair cover. An attic stair cover provides an air seal, reducing the air leaks. Add the desired amount of insulation over the cover to restore the insulation removed from the ceiling.

    Whole House Fans and AC Returns

    Much like attic stairs above, when whole house fans are installed, a large hole (up to 16 square feet or larger) is created in your ceiling. The ceiling and insulation that were there have to be removed, leaving only leaky ceiling shutter between the house and the outdoors.

    An easy, low-cost solution to this problem is to add a whole house fan cover. Installed from the attic side, the whole house fan cover is invisible. Cover the fan to reduce heating and air-conditioning loss, remove it when use of the fan is desired.

    If attic access is inconvenient, or for AC returns, a ceiling shutter cover is another option for reducing heat loss through the ceiling shutter and AC return. Made from R-8, textured, thin, white flexible insulation, and installed from the house side over the ceiling shutter with Velcro, a whole house fan shutter cover is easily installed and removed.


    Sixty-five percent, or approximately 100 million homes, in North America are constructed with wood or gas burning fireplaces. Unfortunately there are negative side effects that the fireplace brings to a home especially during the winter home-heating season. Fireplaces are energy losers.

    Researchers have studied this to determine the amount of heat loss through a fireplace, and the results are amazing. One research study showed that an open damper on an unused fireplace in a well-insulated house can raise overall heating-energy consumption by 30 percent.

    A recent study showed that for many consumers, their heating bills may be more than $500 higher per winter due to the air leakage and wasted energy caused by fireplaces.

    To learn more visit

  • Dan

    These are all really, really good ideas…especially the winter party idea! :-)

    It’s amazing the number of cheap and simple to do energy conservation ideas there are out there.

    We have started to compile a listing of these and other not as simple and not as cheap energy conservation ideas on our blog page:

    Feel free to tell us what we missed and we’ll add it!

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