As weather turns cold, homeowners and renters can take steps now to save money, save energy and stay warm. The Minnesota Department of Commerce offers resources for home weatherization and energy efficiency.
There are easy steps to weatherize and make your home more energy-efficient. Among the low-cost, simple steps for saving energy you could do:
•Add plastic film over windows. Plastic window film kits are inexpensive. You’ll need a hair dryer to install. It helps reduce cold leaking in from drafty windows.
•Insulate light switches or wall outlets, which may have cold air drafts, with inexpensive foam gaskets. You'll need a screwdriver to remove the light switch or wall outlet plate. Place the foam gasket inside and replace the plate.
Control your home's heat:
•If your home has a digital thermostat, program the temperature to be lower during times you are out of the home or sleeping. If you don’t have a digital thermostat, consider investing in an easy-to-install one. A programmable thermostat can save you up to 10 percent on heating bills.
•Experiment with opening or closing heat registers in your home to control how much warm air comes into the room. For example, close vents in warmer rooms, such as those on upper floors. Make sure vents are not blocked by furniture or heavy window curtains, which restrict the flow of air in a room.
•Replace your furnace filter at least every six months, or more often depending on the filter. When the filter is dirty or clogged, your furnace works less efficiently.
•The easiest way to save energy is to turn things off when you’re not using them. Shut off TVs, gaming devices, lights and other things that use electricity.
To help decide what in a home needs fixing, upgrading or replacement, get a home energy assessment, or home energy audit. Contact your utility company or search for licensed home energy audit services.
The cost is typically $50 per household; for income-eligible households, there is no charge. Renters can also schedule a home energy audit as with the property owner or manager’s permission.
Apply for energy affordability programs:
Minnesota’s Energy Assistance Program helps renters and homeowners pay their energy bills, with income-eligible households receiving an average of $500.
Request an application or find local service providers at mn.gov/commerce/energy or 800-657-3710, option 1.
Homeowners and renters may also qualify for weatherization assistance and free energy-saving home improvements.
Under Minnesota’s Cold Weather Rule, residential utility customers can avoid having electric or natural gas service shut off between Oct. 1 and April 30 if they contact their utility company to set a payment plan and keep up with those payments.