Getting Ready for Winter: How To Decrease Your Energy Use

Published: Nov. 8, 2016

Did You Know?

CU Buffs are turning to their thermostats in their efforts to curb their carbon footprint and energy consumption.  There’s a lot that renters and homeowners can do to save energy and money.

The easiest place to start as winter approaches is to lower your thermostat settings, even if just a little. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, home heating accounts for about 40% of our entire energy consumption. Lowering your thermostat by one degree saves between $44 and $73 on your yearly power bill.

Boulder’s electricity mainly comes from the Valmont Station.  The coal-fired unit will be shut down by the end of 2017 and the City is aiming for 100% clean electricity by 2030. 

CU-Boulder is home to 18 LEED buildings which operate 25-45% more efficiently than traditional buildings. 

On campus, two Energy Plants use natural gas for cogeneration to efficiently produce electricity and steam (for heating) and chilled water (for cooling) with a lower carbon footprint.

What can you do?

Here are energy-efficient ideas to lessen our impact on the environment and save money too.

  • Find drafts: On a windy day, use an incense stick, a small candle or a string and slowly "trace" around all windowsills, door jams, vents etc looking for the flame to flicker or the smoke or hair to be blown away.
  • Seal out drafts.  Sealing windows and doors with caulk or weatherstripping keeps the cold air from seeping in.
  • Homeowners can upgrade wall or attic insulation with the help of rebates. 
  • Minimize the use of exhaust fans.  Running a bathroom or kitchen exhaust fan for one hour can deplete your home of its warm air.
  • Set your thermostat a few degrees cooler at night and when you are away during the day.  Programmable thermostats make this easy.  If you already have one, check the settings to keep your space comfortable all season long.
  • Reverse your ceiling fans.  Most ceiling fans have a reverse setting for winter. Fan blades rotate clock-wise and draw down risen heat. 
  • Close blinds and curtains at night in winter. 
  • Keep objects from blocking heaters and radiators and air ducts.
  • Winterize yourself! Use extra blankets, dress for the season, eat warming foods. 


  • Off-campus students can take advantage of SCORE —a free service for students by students that will help you seal drafty leaks, change out inefficient lightbulbs and give you water-smart showerheads and upgrades… Along with a FREE pizza!  There are just a few weeks left to sign up for Fall semester. Homeowners and businesses in Boulder County can contact EnergySmart for a Home Energy Assessment or a Free Phone-Advising Service!  EnergySmart can help you save energy and money, as well as make your home more comfortable. Their services are available to residents in all Boulder County communities!
  • If you live in on-campus housing, see here for some general tips for heating your residence hall room effectively, as well as some specific tips for using each type of heating system we have on campus.
  • Learn more about campus energy and climate initiatives and what you can do:

Report waste and share campus suggestions to conserve energy and reduce waste: