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Save Energy This Winter

October 23, 2019

After what seemed like an all-too-brief summer, winter is on its way again. It’s easy to use a lot of energy during Wisconsin’s blustery days, but by developing some simple energy saving habits, we can reduce our impact on the planet and stay warm, without emptying our wallets.

Take advantage of nature’s heater: When the sun is shining, keep shades, blinds and drapes open during the day to capture the sun’s warming heat. Close window treatments on gloomy or overcast days.

Plan your baking: Turning the oven on for baking one loaf of bread, or for one pan of lasagna still heats up the entire oven. Make the most of that heat by baking more than one thing at a time. Baking a couple of meals or items at once will save energy and provide dinner for a few days, eliminating the need to cook after a long, busy workday. Once your baking tasks are completed, open the oven door and let that excess heat warm up the home. If you have just one small item to warm up, like a couple slices of leftover pizza, use a toaster oven, electric skillet or the stovetop.

Little leaks, big losses: Heat escapes quickly through gaps, leaks and worn weather-stripping around doors and windows. If drafts are detected, replace foam weather stripping and seal windows with rope caulking, which can be peeled off in spring when it’s time to reopen the windows. Block air from creeping under the door with draft stoppers, which sell for about $10. Or make your own by filling a repurposed long sock with sand, rice or kitty litter, and tie or sew the opening end closed.

Adjust the thermostat: While sleeping or away from home, simply turning the thermostat back a few degrees from its normal setting can save as much as 10 percent a year on heating.

Maintenance: Keep furnaces clean and unblocked, and check air filters monthly. Dirty filters can cut down on the unit’s efficiency.

Dress for the season: Resist the urge to crank up the heat during a polar vortex and put on an extra sweater, slippers or thick socks.

Switch the ceiling fan’s blade rotation: Most of us don’t pay attention to which direction the ceiling fan is spinning, but the blades’ rotation can actually save money on your winter heating bill. Hot air rises, so reversing the fan’s blades to a clockwise rotation will help push that warmth back down into the room.

For additional tips on enjoying a warm, cozy and energy efficient winter, visit

Sheila Julson is a freelance writer and regular contributor to Natural Awakenings magazine. 


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