Here are some tips to help you save money and stay cozy even in Chicago winters.
Clean or replace your furnace’s air filter regularly: It’s a good rule of thumb to check on it every three months to determine if it needs a good cleaning or a full replacement. Though if your house has many occupants or pets, you might need to change it as often as every month. When your filter is dirty, it limits airflow, causing your furnace to have to work harder. This not only shortens the life of your furnace, it also costs you more money to run it.
Lower the thermostat temperature: If you need to lower your energy bill, set your thermostat to 68 degrees at night or when you’re away from your home. Not only will you save money, but you will sleep better.
Let in the Sun: In the winter, keep the draperies and blinds on your south-facing windows open during the day to allow the sunlight to warm your home and closed at night to reduce chill and drafts.
Seal Windows and doors: It is very important to make sure the caulk around your windows is not cracking or crumbly. When this happens, it needs to be redone. Even if your windows have a good caulk seal, another way to help insulate your inside from the cold winter outside is using a product to shrink-wrap any windows that you can. Keep window coverings closed in rooms you aren't using to further improve energy efficiency.
Fire Place damper: If you own a fireplace, make sure your damper is closed when you’re not burning. Also, install tempered glass doors to create a tight seal.
Clean off the back of your refrigerator: Your refrigerator will work harder and use up more energy if it has dust and pet hair built up behind it. It's a good idea to clean behind the fridge at least a couple of times a year.
Keep independent freezers inside: Keep your freezer indoors, preferably in a basement. Extreme temperatures are hard on the compressor and can reduce the life of your freezer.
Insulate the pipes: The first few feet of the hot and cold water pipes connected to the water heater should be insulated to increase efficiency and protect against drastic temperature changes.
Run laundry cycles in colder water: Heating the water is responsible for about 90% of the energy it takes to wash a load of laundry. Switching your temperature setting from hot to warm can cut energy use in half. Using the cold cycle reduces energy use even more.
Turn off devices: Since we tend to stay indoors more during the winter, it's likely that we are using more devices. However, when you are not using them consider unplugging and turning off your screens to save energy.