10 ways NOT to save energy this winter, and what to do instead!

October 28, 2021 | 5 min read

As the days get shorter and colder, some of us think about hitting the slopes, some about the holidays, and some just dream about migrating to southern climates! But all of us think about staying warm – and the impact it might have on our energy bills. Here are some things we wouldn't recommend doing to stay warm this winter, and some tips on what to do instead.

1. Wear your jacket to bed

Your home shouldn't be the same temperature as your back yard. If it is, it might be time for weatherization. The last decade has seen dramatic improvements in how we insulate homes. We now know that almost all Vermont homes can save money just by adding insulation and air sealing in crucial areas in the attic and basement – and you won't have to wear your jacket to bed. Efficiency Vermont has incentives available to help bring down the cost of your weatherization project.

2. Build an ice cave inside your home to store leftovers from Thanksgiving.

Your home shouldn't be cold enough to maintain an ice cave! In addition to weatherizing your home, look for an efficient refrigerator. Don't know where to start? Research the most efficient products on the market, compare prices and reviews with our online tool. Or, look for the Efficiency Vermont SMART CHOICE in stores. Products with this logo are the most energy efficient products on the market, and tested for the highest standards of quality and performance.

3. Sit in the dark every night.

Lights shouldn’t cost you a fortune. Replace your incandescent light bulbs with ENERGY STAR LEDs, which can save you up to 90% for each bulb. LEDs are available in almost every size, shape, and color (from warmer tones to brighter whites), so check out your local retailer to find the right bulbs for your home.

4. Build a blanket fort for you and your family to sleep in right next to the woodstove.

Blanket forts are tons of fun, but you should be able to sleep in your own bed and stay warm if your heating system is up to date and working. If your heater runs on oil, it should be maintained annually. A gas system and or heat pumps should be checked every two years. Keep dust and debris off the heat sources in your home to ensure that heat is getting to you. Clear off radiators, baseboard heaters, air vents and ducts and check that the heat flow isn't blocked

5. Wear a wetsuit in the shower.

Water heating is a home’s second-highest energy cost. If you feel like you need to take cold showers in the winter, it could be time to look into a new, more efficient model. Efficiency Vermont partners with local utilities to offer incentives on highly efficient heat pump water heaters. These electric water heaters use the renewable electricity on Vermont’s grid to keep your water warm efficiently.

6. Use the drafts blowing through your house as a natural hair dryer.

If your house feels windy inside, you’ve probably got some holes you can seal! For windows and doors that feel drafty, there are some cost-effective actions you can take before you consider buying new (which can be very expensive). You can replace individual panes that have cracked and replace the glaze on an old window. A simple bead of caulk or weather-stripping around windows and doors can keep warm air from escaping. Lock your windows to keep that seal tight. You can also install Low-E storm windows yourself for an added barrier.

7. Wrap old towels around your heating ducts.

Save your old towels for drying off your pets! You can keep heat in your ducts by sealing seams and joints. If your ducts are going through unheated spaces like attics or garages, add insulation on top of the seal to make sure the heat is going where it’s needed. An Efficiency Excellence Network member will look for these energy saving opportunities as part of a comprehensive weatherization project. Or get $100 from Efficiency Vermont to DIY some projects yourself.

8. Make a bonfire out of your summer clothes with the desperate thought that it may never be warm again.

Summer will come around again soon enough, so don’t panic! Instead, look into more efficient heating options. Keep warm without breaking the bank with a heat pump heating and cooling system. Heat pumps are efficient electric heaters that double as an air conditioner and dehumidifier in the warmer months. You can pair incentives from Efficiency Vermont with offers from your local utility to increase your savings!

If a fire helps you feel toasty on cold nights, think about an efficient pellet stove. Instead of burning your swimsuits, pellet stoves use low-moisture, cleaner-burning, compacted wood. An Efficiency Vermont rebate can help reduce the upfront cost.

9. Invite yourself over to the neighbor's every night.

Community gatherings are a great way to stay warm and active in the winter. But don’t overstay your welcome just because your house is too cold! Consider a smart thermostat so that the house is warm when you need it to be. Smart thermostats learn your behavior and turn off when you leave the house, and warm it again when you’re on your way home. They’re adjustable from your smartphone and can even respond to the weather outside.

10. Hibernate until May

While it’s tempting to stuff yourself at Thanksgiving and then curl up like a bear until spring comes, it’s probably not feasible for you and your family. There are many ways to make your home more affordable, more comfortable, and more resilient to the cold winter ahead. Explore our guides for more ideas and resources.