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Energy-Saving Tips for a Houston Winter

Winter in Houston means extreme temperature patterns that can veer from the mid 80’s to the high 30’s – sometimes within a 24 hour period. While it’s rarely cold for long, any front that brings the temperature below 50 degrees is uncomfortable for those conditioned to the warmth. Along with these unpredictable temperature changes, comes the inevitable use of a furnace or heat source.

Compared to summer, when our air conditioning is on non-stop, our winter heating is not as frequent. But Houston homes still waste quite a bit of energy over the winter months by not taking precautions for the cold. Fortunately it’s not too late to save both energy and money this season. We’ve compiled a list of energy-saving tips to combat the cold (and cool-ish) days of a Houston winter.

Seal Air Leaks/Drafts

  • If you have drafty windows, a great way to keep them sealed through the winter is to apply transparent window film. There are many different brands of film insulation, but they all work in a similar fashion. The plastic sheets are cut to fit each window then “molded” airtight to the pane by applying heat (from a hair dryer). You can purchase kits at any home improvement store.
  • Drafty windows can also be contained by installing insulating drapes or shades. These designs work well year-round as they also keep out the heat of the sun in the summer.
  • Utility cut-throughs for plumbing, recessed lights in insulated ceilings and cracks in doors/door frames should be sealed. If you can feel a breeze or change of temperature next to these or other unsecured places in your home, you are losing heat (and money). Adding insulation or caulking cracks will help keep the energy inside.

How to Detect Air Leaks

Adjust the Thermostat

  • When the household is in bed or out for the day, set the thermostat back around 10 – 15 degrees. You can save as much as 10% a year on your utility bills if you do this at least 8 hours a day.
  • When you are home, try setting your thermostat as low as is comfortable.
  • Invest in a programmable thermostat to help maximize energy savings. A “smart” thermostat can remember the schedule of your household – and will set the temperature back automatically.

Thermostat Facts

Fireplace Efficiency

  • Always keep your fireplace damper closed when not in use. Warm air can easily escape through an open damper.
  • Make sure that the fireplace hearth is solid by adding caulk to any cracks or obvious open spaces.
  • When using the fireplace, you can reduce heat loss by opening dampers (in the bottom of the fire box) or cracking open the nearest window with all the doors to the room closed.
  • Lower the thermostat between 50 – 55 degrees while using the fireplace.


  • Exhaust fans in your kitchen and bathroom pull the hot air that rises into the ceiling. These fans are essential for clearing away smoke, steam and keeping the air properly ventilated. But in the winter, they should be used sparingly to keep in the warm air. Turn them off as soon as you are finished using them.
  • If you have ceiling fans, they can be used to your advantage in the winter. Ceiling fans are ideal for ventilation and air flow – and they can also be used to maximize the warm air in a room. A fan moving counter-clockwise will pull the warm air up. By switching the blade movement to clockwise the warm air will be pushed back down into the room.

When it does get cold this winter and you find yourself having problems with your furnace, contact us right away. Even in a home that is well insulated, a cold snap can affect the health and comfort of your household without heat. Call us at (713) 364-0226 or contact us online and we’ll schedule an appointment!