One major energy cost in colder seasons is from heating homes and buildings, especially older structures common here in New England that tend to be poorly insulated and sealed. If a home energy retrofit is not in the cards for you, there are still ways to combat overuse of your fossil fuel powered furnace, boiler, or radiators. To the list!
- Increase your energy efficiency by calling MassSave (or search to see if your state has an equivalent program). MassSave offers free home energy assessments, and has a host of rebates for things like LEDs, insulation, and hot water heaters. This service is provided via a fee we all pay on our energy bills, so take advantage of the benefits it offers!
- Before you head to bed to snuggle into a warm comforter, and a layer or two if necessary, turn the thermostat down at least 5 degrees to save energy and reduce the energy bill. Just the same, when away more than 8 hours in a day, or especially away on holiday, turn the thermostat down about 10 degrees. Do keep in mind, any occupants remaining in the home might need some more heat, especially houseplants, which generally cannot handle temperatures below 55ºF (13ºC). Aiming for 68ºF (20ºC) is a hospitable temperature that will save money and carbon emissions. If you’re in a dorm and feeling too hot or too cold, don’t open a window! Submit a work order to facilities to adjust the thermostat.
- If you’re at home for any festive day of cooking, keep in mind and accommodate for the use of an oven in the home. If the oven stays on all day, it will greatly heat the kitchen and the surrounding areas, so turn down the thermostat a few degrees!
- Have you heard of phantom or vampire energy? It’s the energy that is consumed simply from things being plugged in, even if they are not turned on. Your microwave, TV, phone, and more all draw energy when plugged in, even when turned off. Use a powerstrip to truly switch off the energy drains in your home.
- Keep windows insulated! Winters in older homes are notorious for whooshing noises as harsh, cold winds fly by, and can lead to loads of heat loss. Sealing drafty windows can keep the heat in for the few months necessary until you can burst open windows again in the spring for a nice flowery breeze.
-Written by Quentin Funderburg, Sustainability Communications Intern, Class of 2025