December 7, 2016

Winter readiness includes a range of energy-loss prevention steps and for many, the benefits of clean solar energy which offsets costly winter heating bills even when temperatures dip below freezing. To best prepare your home for the winter season, we’re sharing helpful tips — from home energy audits to how solar helps reduce energy bills.

Homeowners should first consider a home energy audit to assess where energy is being lost in a home. The auditor will conduct visual, safety and health home inspections and analyze previous energy bills. After the audit is complete, a comprehensive report is provided detailing potential energy savings and which energy efficiency upgrades are best, which can save 5-30 percent on a monthly energy bill.

Solar energy, opposed cleaner alternative to primarily using coal or gas, can help in reducing a homeowner’s energy bill. With solar, homeowners can take advantage of the abundant power that can be found naturally without having to rely on dirty fossil fuels. While long, sunny summer days are ideal for solar panels, the high temperatures may reduce the effectiveness of producing energy. Cooler temperatures are ideal for the panels since it relies on light rather than heat.  Even on dark, wintery nights and days with less sunlight, homeowners continue to save money.

Although homes are not generating as much energy in the winter, the energy overproduced during sunnier summer months is put back into the grid and offsets energy usage when the panels aren’t operating as efficiently. The meter spins backwards and builds a “bank” of credits with the homeowner’s utility company.  This process is referred to as “net metering.” The credits earned during those days can carry over during the night or on a cloudy day, which is useful during winter months as well when the system is less productive.

Weatherizing the home can be done through air sealing, insulation, moisture control and ventilation:

  • Add caulk on the edges and any windows in the door.
  • Stop under-door drafts with a rubber or vinyl door sweep along the bottom
  • Apply glazing around the edges of the windowpanes. Scrape off old glazing and clean the glass; when it’s dry, apply the glazing where the glass meets the window frame. Press it tightly and smooth with a putty knife.
  • Electrical outlets, especially along exterior walls, are prime areas for cold air drafts. Carefully unscrew the cover and press a foam gasket around the sockets. Put the cover back on and insert childproof safety caps into all unused outlets.
  • Insulate and air seal any knee walls — vertical walls with attic space directly behind them
  • Cover the kitchen exhaust fan to stop air leaks when not in use.
  • Wood fireplaces are notorious sources of air leaks. Tight-fitting glass doors are the best way to prevent air from escaping or entering. 
  • Install energy-saving solar energy panels to produce cleaner energy at a savings. Properly installed panels will stand up to winter’s entire wrath and continue to provide home and business owners with clean, low-cost energy in the coldest days and nights.