Buying a mattress heat pad is the number one way to cut the kilowatt-hour usage at your home. Here is one I found on Amazon that looks pretty good and made for a Queen mattress. You can typically save about 3,000 kilowatt-hours a year or the equivalent in natural gas savings if you turn your heat all the way off and stay warm in your bed via a mattress heat pad. If you have kids like I do I would keep the kids room heated in some way conventionally and use the mattress heat pad for adults only. When it comes to electric appliances you are sleeping on top of you can never be too careful especially when it comes to children. There aren’t a lot of safety concerns with these but perhaps your kids curious one night and starts using his scissors on the electric heat mattress pad, not a good combo in my opinion. For the kids room I would pay your heating and air conditioning company to come in and direct all heat for the house to come in children’s rooms and places where you still want it and have it bypass rooms that are now using the mattress pad electric heater. Rerouting some duct work that is already in place is a simple job and should only cost $100 or less. Using 3,000 kilowatt hours less each year in heating is about $267 in savings a year and probably about $175 savings a year if you use natural gas to heat your home.
For windows you are not using this winter and don’t typically look through I would cut out some bubble wrap like you get at the packaging store and spray water mist on these windows and then apply that bubble wrap. The wrap will stay up all winter season and will drastically increase the R factor and energy efficiency of those windows. We are planning to do this in the laundry room, bathrooms, and guest bedroom that is at the back of our house. Light will still be able to get in and it doesn’t look bad from the outside looking in like when you see those houses with a bunch of foil taped to their windows. You will save about $40 or more a year with this simple project.
Buy some mastic paint and a brush at your local air conditioning and heating supply store. Go up into your attic and start at the central control area where all the ducts come out from. Many times at this location you will find that all the joints have got air leaking from these cracks. Simply dip your brush into the mastic paint and pant over these cracks. Once the mastic has dried you can wrap insulation around the ducts and joints and use a staple gun or foil tape to connect the insulation around the duct work. Your yearly savings will likely be around 1,000 kilowatt-hours saved per year or about $87 a year.
Create an attic superficial door to go inside your attic that sits above and around your existing wood attic door. You can buy really cheap Styrofoam boards and radiant barrier at a local hardware store for this. You will also need a box cutter and some metal tape and some spray foam in a can. Simply go into your attic and measure the dimensions surrounding your attic door. You want to make the Styrofoam box slightly bigger than the attic door so it will sit flat on the floor. Cut out pieces of the Styrofoam to make your box using the box cutter. tape it all together using the metal tape. Bring this box into your attic and set it on the floor of your attic over the attic door. Now use the spray foam to spray around the bottom of the box where the box meets the floor of the attic. Let the foam dry so the box will stick to the floor and completely seal off the attic. Once dry go back into the attic and use the box cutter to cut our an opening door at the top. Bring down the piece you cut out and tape or glue a larger piece of Styrofoam over the door. Now when you g back up to put the door back the door will lay perfectly over the box and come to a perfect seam to meet the rest of the box. If you have a leaky attic that causes your attic hallway, closet, etc to get cold in the winter and hot in the summer you can expect to save about $100 – $200 a year in heating costs from this project.
Buy a bunch of surge protectors for your home and plug all your appliances into them. By doing this you can turn all appliances you are not using off in one stroke. There are phantom loads that continue to use electricity even when you are not using an appliance so by doing this you will be saving about $60 a year on average.
Replace all your light bulbs with fluorescent light bulbs. You can expect to save about $80 – $100 a year by using these more energy-efficient lights than the standard light bulb. The light from a standard light bulb is much nicer so you could compromise by installing the fluorescent bulbs in rooms you do not use as often and splurge with standard bulbs in your reading room and dining room.
Tighten up your house a bit with some indoor storm windows that can be installed from inside the house fairly easily or for much less you can install some V-shaped weather-stripping on doors and completely seal all gaps on the sides and top and bottoms of your door. For windows I would get some weatherstrip foam for windows because it is dirt cheap and works for almost any window no matter how crooked or old it may be. Sealing out these typical drafty door and window problems on average can save you an additional 1,500 kilowatt-hours in electric usage a year or $130. You can also install these really cheap but extremely useful electric outlet insulators. These are cut out to fit around your electric outlets wants you take the cover off. You simply place the rubber insulator over and around the electric outlets and once in place screw the plastic outlet cover back on. This insulator closes off this hole in the wall that has been proven to create huge inefficiencies in a homes energy usage because of air leakage.
Install a thermostat that self learns based on your habits of when you adjust your thermostat. The Nest thermostat can self learn and keep your home running at peak efficiency by not letting your home run super cool or super hot when it knows you are not utilizing this energy because you inadvertently forgot to adjust it back to where you wanted it to be at. Nest knows your heating and cooling habits and will do this adjusting and modification of your thermostat for you as it learns how you live in your home. You will average about $173 a year in energy savings by using a self programmable thermostat. Learn more about the Nest Thermostat here
Your total savings in dollars from all of these very easy energy savings projects is $1007 a year. That would be some nice Christmas money when you come to think about it. These are all cheap affordable things you can do without having to be a construction expert.