thermostatup.jpg As the weather grows colder, homeowners begin to think of ways to keep their living spaces warm and comfortable. If you’re one of the many people who faces drafty windows and leaky doors come winter, there’s no better time to prep for the weather than now. Here are some eco-friendly tips you can consider before the temperatures drop. Taking the initiative to keep your house warm before the cold weather arrives can eliminate the need for winter renovations and adjustments.

1. Conduct an Energy Audit.

Not only is it eco-friendly, but it could save you big bucks in the long-run. An energy audit is conducted by a professional who comes into your home to assess the amount of leakage you have throughout your living spaces. He or she will be able to determine exactly where warm air is escaping your house. In turn, you’ll have a better idea of the areas you need to insulate before winter arrives. It’s important to note that there are several factors that go into an energy audit, as well as how it is conducted, according to Energy Star. A professional will need to measure square footage and know how many people are living in the household at the time. He or she will then use equipment, such as blower doors, to measure the leaks within the structure. If you have any questions about the process, an expert should be able to answer them before conducting the full audit on your home.

2. Install a programmable thermostat.

Programmable thermostats can save you hundreds of dollars on your heating bill every winter, in addition to saving energy, according to Mashable. The Nest thermostat, for instance, is designed to learn your household’s habits. It knows when you are (and aren’t) home, and adjusts your thermostat accordingly to reduce energy waste. These devices require a bit of an investment at first, but over time, you can make up the cost in energy savings.

3. Seal obvious cracks.

Walls, windows and lights may all have cracks that can lead to warm air leaking out of your home. These problems can be easily solved with a bit of caulk or expanding foam. If you’re unsure of which eco-friendly materials to use, consider sheep wool or cotton. Unlike fiberglass, for instance, these materials do not contain formaldehyde, which can be linked to cancer, according to HowStuffWorks. When you shop for caulk, Apartment Therapy recommends looking for items that meet indoor air quality regulations or specify that they are low-VOC.

4. Tune up your furnace.

This is an easy maintenance tactic that can not only save energy, but keep your furnace working for longer. By bringing in an expert to tune your furnace, you’ll be able to spot any looming problems before they become costly, according to This Old House. Furthermore, a professional can let you know if you need to address duct work or filters before the cold weather arrives. Once-a-year servicing should cost you no more than $100, and it’s worth the investment to keep your furnace running efficiently throughout its life.

5. Cover up your windows.

One of the easiest, eco-friendly ways to retain heat in your home as the temperatures drop is to invest in the right window treatments. Insulating curtains, for instance, can keep warm air from escaping your living spaces. Furthermore, it can prevent cold drafts from entering your home if you can’t afford to replace your windows. Window insulation kits are another option for homeowners who want a quick, easy way to keep out the cold, according to Apartment Therapy. This affordable form of insulation typically comes as a film that can be tightly applied over window panes for a strong seal – no more air escaping through small cracks. Weather caulking or stripping is another alternative homeowners can consider, although it may take more time, drying included.

6. Use area rugs.

If you have wood or tile flooring throughout large areas of your home, it may be downright uncomfortable to move around in the winter. You can easily solve this problem by putting down a few area rugs in spots that you regularly use. Additionally, they might just bring a little more flair to your interior design!

7. Take care of your fireplace.

Have you ever wondered how much cold air comes from your fireplace? As it turns out, this could be a big reason why you’re losing an ample amount of warm air every winter. When you leave the damper open, you boost the amount of energy you need to heat your home by 30 percent, according to LifeYourWay. Seal your damper before winter arrives to prevent leaking warm air out and energy waste.

8. Reverse the direction of your ceiling fan.

It may seem counter-productive to turn your ceiling fan on during the winter, but this is actually one tip that may help you keep warmth in your home for longer. By reversing the fan blade to spin clockwise, you push the warm air downward toward floor level. As a result, this prevents the air from escaping quickly through your walls or windows, according to Sustainable Baby Steps. Think about using this tip to reduce the need to crank up the heat throughout the fall and winter. Depending on when your house was constructed, you may have not had the opportunity to take advantage of today’s eco-friendly materials. However, it’s never too late to consider installing items, such as insulated, environmentally friendly windows, to save energy and go green. For more information on how you can save energy and heat this winter, visit the Energy Star website. Here, you’ll also find information on how to identify Energy Star-certified products, which indicate the energy efficiency of items for consumers. By educating yourself on how to go green before making renovations, you can rest assured you are insulating your home in an eco-friendly way.