Young Professionals (Juice file photo)

(Juice file photo)

Ward off winter with money-friendly tips

Published on December 31st, 2013 | by Josh Hafner

Winter’s first weekend dumped six inches of snow on Des Moines and left us in freezing single-digits by Monday last week. Then this Monday, it snowed again.

You’re left with two options until spring: Crank up the heat at home and face major energy costs, or get thrifty — dare we say, efficient? — and save big on your energy bills.

If you’re a 20- or 30something with a heart for sustainability or just a mound of credit card debt, we’re willing to bet you’ll pick the second option. According to the Iowa Energy Center, the state research organization on energy use in Ames, you can save anywhere from 10 to 30 percent on your utility bills yearly through a “whole-house” approach to weatherizing your home.

Here are four tips from the Iowa Energy Center and the U.S. Energy Department for you (or your landlord) to ward off high heating bills during below-freezing temps this winter:

Temp down, layer up: Place the thermostat at the lowest temperature you and your housemates can live with, then pack on the sweaters, stockings, thermals and caps. The cool air is temporary. The glory of savings is forever. Leaving home? Turn the thermostat down 10 to 15 degrees for savings of about 10 percent a year.

Embrace the light: Open the curtains to south-facing windows and let the free heat shine down, but make sure to tightly seal them and other windows with the clear plastic insulating sheets found at stores.

Get caulky: Hunt down every leaky crevasse in your home. You should be feeling cold air gusting out of these areas by now, but look where the materials meet. Check baseboards, vents, outlets, even the foundation and siding on the outside and get ‘em covered. You can plug these leaks with sealant or cover them with weather stripping.

All systems go: Schedule a heating and cooling specialist to swing by your home and make sure your building’s boiler or furnace is in tip-top shape. They’ll check over your building’s machinery and ventilation systems to make sure that everything is optimized for maximum comfort without unneeded waste.

About the Author

covers young professionals for The Des Moines Register. Josh can be reached at or on Twitter via @joshhafner.

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