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Make your home more energy efficient this winter

The PNW is a winter wonderland right now! Snow is on the ground & in the trees and the air is crisp and cold (so we have an excuse to wear those cute scarfs and hats)! Mother Nature really shows off this time of year. The dark side of winter? Those gigantic energy bills! However, homeowners don't have to just sit back & accept it. There are some ways you can increase the energy efficiency of your home and decrease those energy bills. So, you can have more money to spend on the important that cute pair of snow boots you've had your eye on.

Follow these 10 steps to get you on your way to a more energy efficient home:

1.) Conserve lighting! This step is simple, but easy to forget. Turn off those lights and electronics when you aren't in the room. If those darn kids keep forgetting to turn off the lights in a room when they leave the space, consider installing a motion sensor.

2.) Reduce temperature setting! Even lowering the temperature by a single degree during the day can add up to big savings. Consider lowering it even more at night, everyone is bundled up under those warm blankets anyway. The suggested temperature for during the day in your home is 68 degrees.

3.) Switch to cold water for laundry! Cold water uses far less energy than warm water in laundry loads. Many name brands offer "cold water" laundry detergent now too, so you don't have to sacrifice getting those clothes sparkling clean.

4.) Unplug! Not so fun energy fact: appliances use energy via "energy surges" when not in use. Say what?! So what can you do? You have plug in your electric devices to a power string, making it easier to turn off when not in use. Also be sure to unplug all those smaller appliances when not in use, such as chargers, curling irons, hair dryers, toasters, etc.

5.) Keep up on your HVAC servicing! It's important to have your heating system serviced 1x per year to ensure it is clean and running efficiency.

6.)Replace those filters! Enough said! It's important to check and replace your house filter every 3 months to ensure your air stays clean, and your HVAC system doesn't have to run harder (and use more energy) to heat your home.

7.) Clean those appliances! Cleaning dust, grime and dirt from your appliances (such as your fridge and microwave) helps them run more efficiently.

8.) Weather proof those windows and doors! Check your doors and windows for any leaks which allows your warm air to escape. Seal up any cracks or gaps. Adding a storm door to your front door helps keep in that warmth too!

9.) Practice energy saving habits! Small changes can make for big energy savings. Only running laundry at a full load. Installing low water shower heads helps you use less water, which means less water to heat. Turn off that heat dry on your dishwasher.

10.) Pay attention above & below you! Using rugs, heavy drapes and carpeting helps to trap in the heat. Don't forget to run that ceiling fan year round! It helps to circulate the air and regulate the temperature.

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