Cardboard house with energy ratings

Wintertime is on its way. And while East Tennessee’s climate may be relatively mild, the changing of the seasons presents an opportunity to consider some home improvements that could cut your energy costs. Here are seven project ideas that could save you money, add comfort and value to your home, and help planet Earth:

1. Upgrade to a smart thermostat.

These days, there are many options for programmable thermostats that you can control remotely with your phone. This allows you to finetune your energy use, turning the heat down when you’re sleeping or at work or if the sun is shining in. With many devices priced under $200, this can be a cost-effective way to lower your energy bills, reduce carbon emissions, and make sure that your living spaces are at the ideal temperature.

2. Run your ceiling fans in reverse.

Running your ceiling fans in winter might seem counterintuitive – but that’s only if they’re running counterclockwise. Warm air tends to rise, and if you set your fans to rotate clockwise at a moderate speed, you can get that warm air to circulate and redistribute through your living spaces. Ceiling fans use remarkably little energy, especially compared to your furnace, so this is a highly efficient heating hack.

3. Seal your outlets.

When you think about keeping your home snug, you probably don’t think about your outlets and light switches. But they’re mounted on junction boxes that sit in unsealed holes – and a tiny eighth-inch gap around six outlets is the heat-sucking equivalent of a four-inch hole in your ceiling. You can buy easy-to-install plastic sealers for just a few dollars – or you can do a deeper dive and spray non-expanding latex foam around the junction boxes.

4. Care for your ductwork.

Ensuring that your ducts are clean and tight can have your heating system running smoothly throughout the winter, lowering your monthly bills as well as the chance that you’ll unexpectedly be left in the cold. By some estimates, up to 40% of a home’s heated air can be lost through duct leaks. Having your ductwork professionally sealed through an injection process isn’t the cheapest project on this list, but you could see savings within two seasons.

5. Wrap your water heater.

Like your furnace, your water heater works hard all through the winter months. In addition to making sure that your heater is regularly services and that worn parts and old filters are replaced, consider giving it an extra layer of installation. Purpose-made, fire-resistant blankets can reduce standby heat losses by up to 45% and can pay for themselves in a single cold season.

6. Switch to LED lightbulbs.

Lighting can account for up to a third of a home’s overall electricity bill. But traditional incandescent bulbs are highly wasteful, expending as much as 95% of that energy as heat rather than as visible light. LEDs are much more efficient and last a lot longer, and they’re non-toxic. One study found that U.S. households could save $1,000 over ten years by using LEDs.

7. Conduct an energy audit.

A home energy audit can help you gain an overall understanding of your home’s energy use and pinpoint further improvements that could improve efficiency, safety, savings, and comfort. Many municipalities, counties, and utility companies offer free or low-cost audits – or you can opt to DIY, using one of the many checklists available for free online.

Can We Give You a Hand?

Citizens Bank been serving homeowners in East Tennessee for over 85 years and we’re proud to have been recognized as a Top Lender by the Independent Community Bankers of America for 2021. We offer a full suite of banking and investment services and multiple options for tapping into the home equity you’ve worked hard to build. Search here for a branch near you, or contact us here.