With the coldest months of the year upon us, you’re probably looking for ways to stay warm and comfortable without breaking your energy budget — no matter what old man winter dishes out.
According to one story published this past fall, the U.S. Energy Information Association expects the cost of heating a house to rise this winter.
Here are 7 helpful hints for staying warm without overheating your utility bill.
#1: Seal up doors and windows
Unsealed cracks around doors and windows are responsible for 7-12% of heat loss during the winter. They let in cold air, causing you to crank up the thermostat even more. Here are some ways to keep the cold air from sneaking in and the warm air from sneaking out:
- Apply weatherstripping. Make sure you have weatherstripping around the door frame or window sill. If you already have weatherstripping, inspect it regularly and replace when it becomes worn out.
- Close the threshold. During daylight hours, look down at the threshold of your front and back doors. If you can see the sunlight shining through, it means you’re losing heat. Turn the screws counterclockwise to adjust the height of the threshold so that it comes into contact with the door — preventing unnecessary heat loss.
- Cover windows with plastic film. Your windows alone can account for 25% of the heat lost from your home. To keep the warm air in, you can buy transparent plastic film from most home improvement and mass market retailers. It’s cheap, easy to apply, and easy to peel off when warm weather returns.
- Keep doors and windows locked. You already know that locking up is a good way to keep thieves from entering your house. But it’s also a good way to keep warm air from escaping. Locking doors and windows creates a tighter bond with the frame or sill, which means that less air seeps out through the cracks.
#2: Keep the chimney closed
If your damper is open, and there’s no fire in the fireplace, you’re basically burning money.
The warm air inside your home escapes through the chimney, so close the damper for more energy efficient heating. You can also use a special chimney balloon or similar products to keep warm air from leaking out.
#3: Watch out for other points of entry
Even the smallest crack or crevice allows warm air to escape or cold air to seep in. Your home heating system works best when these openings are sealed tight.
- Electrical outlets. Remove the cover plates and check to see if your outlets and switches are properly insulated. Small gaps can be filled with an acrylic latex caulk, and larger gaps can be insulated with a flexible foam sealant. Check with a licensed electrician to make sure the job is done right.
- Plug holes in exterior walls. Inspect locations where pipes, gas lines, and electrical cables enter your house. Make sure any gaps are filled with caulk or other appropriate insulation.
- Check your ductwork. Leaks, holes, and poorly connected ducts reduce the efficiency and effectiveness of your whole heating system. Make sure all equipment is properly connected and sealed to prevent leaks.
- Don’t forget the attic door. While you may already have plenty of insulation protecting your attic, what about the door? Warm air can escape there, too.
#4: Turn on the ceiling fan
Most people forget about the ceiling fan when the temperature drops, but this handy device isn’t just for summer anymore.
Run your ceiling fans clockwise in the winter. This will trap more heat inside and keep the room warmer, so you don’t have to turn the thermostat up so high.
#5: Lower your thermostat
Way too many people either forget about their thermostat setting or just keep cranking it up without considering the cost of doing so.
- Keep your thermostat at about 68 degrees most of the time when you’re home. For every degree you lower your thermostat in the 60-70 degree range, you save about 5% on heating costs.
- Want to save another 5-20%? Turn the thermostat down to 55 degrees when you’re not home, then back up to 68 when you return.
- Having trouble remembering all this? Get a programmable thermostat to remember for you! Many models start as low as $25, and can save you 10% or more on heating costs. All you have to do is preset your thermostat to lower the temperature when you’re at work or school, and then raise it back up when you get home.
#6: Let the sunshine in
Open south-facing curtains and blinds on sunny days. That will give you a free source of extra heat, enabling you to lower the thermostat.
Don’t forget to close them back up when the sun goes down!
#7: Keep your furnace humming in tune
A poorly functioning furnace is much more costly in terms of wasted energy than the cost of keeping it in good condition in the first place.
- To maintain good home heating efficiency, schedule a professional inspection of your HVAC system at least once a year. This will help you catch and fix problems early — saving you money on heating costs when cold weather hits.
- Don’t ignore your filters. Dirty filters clog your whole system, forcing your furnace to work harder and gobble up more energy than necessary to keep you warm. Simply replacing your filters once a month will lower your utility bills significantly.
- Keep vents unblocked. Don’t place furniture, rugs, or other items in front of or on top of your heating vents. That blocks the warm air and prevents it from doing its job of keeping you comfortable.
Is it time to have your furnace inspected? Need more information on keeping your heating bill in check this winter?
Get in touch with Complete Electrical Solutions at any time. We’re happy to help you stay warm while keeping your costs down.