Winter Energy Efficiency Tips

by Lizzy Conroy
January 29, 2018

January in Northern Virginia is a time when we hunker down and manage as best we can with “Old Man Winter.”  There are unlimited energy efficient suggestions that we can adhere to in January and February, as we are crank up the heat and work to prevent drafts from entering our home... or worse yet, freezing pipes and other winter mishaps. Some Northern Virginians respond by simply getting out of town to a warmer clime. 


Here are several tips for energy efficiency in your home this winter. 

1. If you are traveling out of town this winter, keep in mind important safeguarding tips to protect your home.

  • Turn off the water at the exterior.  Make sure the water supply is turned off completely at the main supply point.
  • Open all faucets and drain all waterlines.
  • Turn down the thermostat.  If you’re leaving to go out of town, turning down the thermostat to 55 degrees is recommended. 
  • Unplug all small appliances and electronics. 

2. Windows. Does your home have drafty windows?  Clear window insulation film works well.  Here is one example:

3. Filters. It is recommended to change your filters every month during the heating season.  This is an easily forgotten one, but it will help with proper air flow in the home and keep heating cost down. 

4. Keep thermostat set a degree or two lower.  Grab your comfortable cardigan or warm sweater.  By keeping the thermostat even one degree lower will cut 1-3 percent of your heating bill! When you’re at home, the ideal thermostat setting is 68 degrees and if you are not home, 55 degrees. 

5. Reverse the fans.  Running the homes’ ceiling fans in the clockwise position makes it warmer, as it helps circulate the air flow.

6. Lower the hot water heater thermostat.  Many hot water heaters are set to 140 degrees.  By lowering the temperature to 120 degrees, you may reduce your heating cost by 5% or more.

7. Draft snake.  Draft snakes are the door length sewn draft stoppers that are used at the bottom of exterior doors to stop the draft.  Well worth it to spend a few dollars on draft snakes that stop drafts that waste energy and increase heating cost.  


Do you have a Vacant Home?  

  1. Here are some important tips to apply if your home is vacant.
  2. Ask a friend or neighbor to check on the house interior and exterior while the home is vacant.  Leave a key with them and schedule a regular check-in time.  You may consider adding a remote monitoring system.
  3. Make a checklist of all the things that need to be done inside and out, and divide them into categories.
  4. Turn off water at the exterior.
  5. Open faucets and drain the waterlines.
  6. Unplug small appliances and electronics.
  7. Clean out the refrigerator completely.  If the home is vacant for a long time, you may want to unplug the refrigerator.
  8. Any dry foods that remain in the pantry need to be stored in tight sealed containers.
  9. Insects and rodents.  Remove soaps, sponges, candles and anything that may attract insects or rodents.  Place botanical rodent repellent under the sink, on the kitchen counter and use repellent in the garage too.
  10. Remove any liquid items that could freeze.  Empty water from jars and vases.
  11. Remove all trash from the property.
  12.  Wash linens, towels, bedding.  Ideally, store them away in totes or rodent proof boxes.  Use mothballs where needed.
  13. Vacuum carpets and sweep floors to remove any food or crumbs that can attract pests.
  14. Remove items that could be a fire hazard such as papers.
  15. Stow away outdoor furniture and anything outside.  Move furniture and outside items to the garage or a storage unit, anything that could be moved by a strong wind or weather.
  16. Security.  Make it look as though someone is home.   Purchase light timers that can be placed around the home and that come on automatically in the evenings.  Have your neighbor keep an eye on the property. 


Federal Tax Credits and Rebates.  Did you know that there are many state and federal tax credit and rebate programs available for greater energy efficiency in your home?

This link gives you a list of federal tax credits and rebate programs for ensuring energy efficiency in your home.  You can save money two ways, from the program itself, and from reduction of utility cost spent on unnecessary energy usage.

For more tips on winterizing your home and energy efficiency ideas, refer to the following sources:

For additional information on protecting your vacant home, please refer to:


Lizzy Conroy is partner at Huckaby Briscoe Conroy Group. Lizzy graduated from Georgetown University with a B.A. in Economics and has served in a number of professional capacities in the Washington, DC area a first with the international trade group of Hogan Lovells, then as a marketing manager with MicroStrategy of McLean, VA. She also held business development positions with Kalmia Construction, a Maryland-based commercial construction company, and Newmark LLC, a New York City-based commercial real estate firm.

Lizzy is the 2017 American Mothers, Inc. Virginia Mother of the Year and currently serves on the AMI National Board of Directors. Lizzy is the 2005 Leukemia & Lymphoma Society National Woman of the Year and is a past member of the LLS Board of Trustees. She is a sustaining member of the Junior League of Northern Virginia and is a devoted member of her church, Trinity United Methodist. She is a member of River Bend Golf & Country Club, Great Falls, VA. She and her husband, Steve, live in McLean, Virginia with their two children.

Licensed in the Commonwealth of Virginia, the District of Columbia, and Maryland

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