Running an energy-efficient home this winter doesn't necessarily entail buying expensive solar panels or wind generators. Neither does it mean you have to wear your outdoor clothes inside to stop you shivering! Here are 8 useful tips.
Laundry: Wait until you have a full load of laundry and run the machine on cold. Detergents are available to clan clothes at low temperatures.
Dishes: Don't pre-rinse your dishes as this wastes energy. And wait until the dishwasher is full before turning it on. If you have the time, use the air dry or no-heat dry settings so the dishes dry without using electricity.
Windows: In the winter during the day, open the blinds on south-facing windows to allow the sun to warm your home then close them in the evening to increase insulation. (In the summer, you can do the opposite to keep your home cool.)
Computers and TVs: Turn off your appliances when you are not using them. Even when they're in standby mode they are still using electricity -- it's estimated 5% of household energy use is from appliances leaking away electricity. So turn them off at the wall.
Showers: While a long, hot shower is nice and relaxing, you can save a lot of money taking shorter showers and by installing energy-efficient showerheads that give you a good shower while reducing water use.
Space heaters: Surprisingly, space heaters are a lot cheaper than a central heating system. And don't forget to turn them off when you're out. Installing a programmable thermostat will also keep your heating bill low.
Furnace filter: Change the filter at the start of every season and then every month or two after because a dirty filter makes the furnace work harder and be less efficient.
Floors and drafts: If you've got hardwood floors, put down some rugs, particularly if you have wood floors above a cold basement. Make sure also that you've installed insulation such as weather-stripping at the bottom of doors.