Eco Tip: How to Stay Energy Efficient Even While Staying Home

Marsha Low, Weavers Way Environment Committee

Because of the pandemic, many of us are staying home this winter — if we’re among those who can. That means we’re not turning down our heat during the day like we used to when we went out to work or to do errands, and that means higher heating bills. But we can lower our bills while also reducing our impact on the environment by cutting back on energy usage while still managing to stay warm.

If you set your thermostat at 68° or even lower during the day, you can be reasonably comfortable if you wear a sweater or layer up. I doubt I’m the only one who thinks it strange that some folks like to walk around their homes in winter dressed like it’s summer! Don’t constantly change the set temperature on your thermostat, because that causes your furnace to stop and start and makes it run inefficiently. Take advantage of solar heating by opening curtains and drapes to let in the sun — it’s amazing how toasty a sun-warmed room can feel.

At night, close all drapes and curtains to help keep out the cold. When you go to bed, set the temperature of your home around eight degrees lower for the eight hours or so that you sleep at night. Every degree you lower the thermostat can net you an estimated 1% off your heating bill.

How low is too low? Reducing our energy use is one important consideration, but so is health. According to doctors, the ideal bedroom temperature for sleep is about 65°, so most recommend not lowering the thermostat lower than 60°.

Some argue that it may cost more to bring up your home’s temperature in the morning, so you should not lower your thermostat at night. According to the Department of Energy, though, maintaining a consistent higher temperature uses much more energy than maintaining a lower one at night and heating it back to your ideal range in the morning. So go ahead and lower your thermostat those eight or so degrees at night and reap the benefits for your health, your wallet and the environment.