With temperatures dipping well below freezing, homeowners are facing the annual winter challenge: How do you keep your house toasty and warm without emptying your wallet?
It’s not always easy. However, we have some practical suggestions that can help you stay comfortable without feeling the financial strain of skyrocketing utility bills:
Seal the Gaps
Small gaps and cracks in your home’s structure can lead to big air leaks. In fact, it’s estimated that roughly 20% of the average person’s energy costs are due to leaks. That’s a tremendous waste of warm air in the winter, so eliminate these breaches in your foundation and doors wherever you can find them.
Use weather stripping and caulk to address leaks around doors and windows. This rudimentary step forms a robust defense against heat loss and drafts, rendering your heating system more efficient and keeping your home more comfortable.
Upgrade Your Insulation
Elevate your home’s insulation game by inspecting and fortifying areas like the attic, walls and floors. Consider adding extra insulation wherever necessary, particularly if you feel like it is no longer effective, or you notice substantial gaps.
This strategic move not only enhances the thermal envelope of your home but also ensures a consistent and comfortable indoor temperature, reducing the workload on your heating system. Your savings will also carry over into summer because the same insulation that keeps warm air inside during the winter will also keep cool air where it belongs when it gets hot outside.
Get a Programmable Thermostat
We live in remarkable times, and you can take advantage of the technological capabilities of the era by getting a “smart” or programmable thermostat.
This nifty device empowers you to set temperature variations throughout the day, optimizing the efficiency of your whole heating system. Lower the temperature at bedtime when everyone is asleep, and set it to rise again right before your family usually gets up. Do the same thing when you know nobody will be home, raising the temp again just before everybody is due to arrive home. This automated approach can translate into tangible energy savings over the winter months.
Get Your HVAC Maintenance Done
Pledge allegiance to regular maintenance for your heating system. Clean or replace your home’s air filters, inspect your air ducts for leaks and address any issues with your heater promptly. A well-maintained heating system operates at peak efficiency, requiring less energy – which translates to lower heating bills for you.
If your heating appliances have weathered the years, consider upgrading to energy-efficient models. Modern systems are designed with optimal energy consumption in mind, delivering cost savings and prolonging the lifespan of your heating equipment. Look for the ENERGY STAR label on all your heating equipment for maximum assurance of savings.
Make Effective Use of Your Drapes
This can be a little tricky in winter because you don’t want to block out the sun – which can be an excellent natural source of both light and heat, even in winter – with your drapes. On the other hand, your drapes can be a strategic barrier that you use against the cold since they can reduce heat loss by up to 10% when they’re closed.
To make the most of the situation, get into a routine where you open the curtains on any south-facing windows (which get the most sun throughout the day, without the glare you might get from the east or west) on bright winter days to let the sunlight bring in a little natural warmth. Just make sure that you close them again as soon as it gets dark.
Consider Zone Heating
You can lower your heating bills remarkably by focusing only on heating certain areas of your home at a time.
If you have dampers in your ductwork, you can reposition them as needed to regulate the temperature in different parts of your home, but there are other ways to create the same effect. Small, portable space heaters can be used to provide temporary extra heat in rooms that you’re only going to use for a short time, like the laundry. If you’re hanging out on the couch with the kids for a movie, consider covering everybody up with a heated blanket instead of cranking up the thermostat for the whole house. Even small methods like these can create considerable savings.
Use Area Rugs and Draft Stoppers
Maybe you remember your grandparents putting down throw rugs on every bare part of the floor and kicking homemade “draft stoppers” into place in front of the doors.
Well, your grandparents were definitely onto something, because these methods can effectively provide an extra layer of insulation under your feet wherever you walk, and that helps keep the air in a room even warmer (aside from being nice on your feet).
Reset Your Ceiling Fans
This seems like such a small, simple thing to do, but it’s really effective at keeping all the warm air your furnace puts out from getting trapped by the ceiling.
Reset your ceiling fans so that the blades are turning clockwise in winter. That way, they’ll push the warm air back down toward the floor and pull cool air up to be warmed. Running the fan at the slowest speed will also help evenly distribute the warm air your furnace puts out, avoiding that “stuffy” feeling that a running heater can cause without creating a draft.
Fireplaces Are Your Friends
If you are lucky enough to live in a home with a working fireplace, these cold winter nights are the perfect time to utilize this amenity. There’s nothing like a cheerful fire to bring family members together in one room. Make it a movie or game night and create lasting memories while also lowering your heating bills.
Be Strategic When You Cook and Bake
Have you ever abandoned your kitchen in the middle of summer and cooked out on the grill because it’s simply too hot to add the heat of your oven or stove into the equation? Well, in winter, you should welcome all that heat-generating potential.
When you cook, throw an extra pot of water on the stove to boil so that you add much-needed moisture into the air and heat through the steam. When you bake, leave the door of the oven ajar when you’re done so that all that residual heat will flood the room. This is an old-fashioned but effective way to cut the chill in the winter and keep everybody comfortable.
As the saying goes, “Baby, it’s cold outside!” However, you don’t have to let the winter chill get to you. Reducing your winter heating costs doesn’t have to mean sacrificing your comfort. Use these tips to keep your home warm and cozy all winter long – while still keeping your energy bills in check.