Normally, this would be a really dumb topic for me to even consider writing about. After five upper Wisconsin winters, where 2 feet of snow laid on the ground from November to March and temps were always below freezing, Tennessee winters are so… eh. But we have started the new year with some really cold weather.
I got to thinking about the current financial strains most of us are already feeling with the cost of gas and recovering from the holidays. So, I’ve gathered some tips for keeping home heating costs down. Some are obvious – we’ve heard them over and over before; but others may be new to you.
Here are some ways to maximize warmth in your home this winter, and reduce heating costs.
1. Dress warmly indoors. Wear slippers or socks. When your feet are cold, the rest of you tends to follow suit.
2. Adjust your home thermostat. A good rule of thumb: Set your thermostat at 69°F when you’re home awake, 64°F when you’re sleeping and 62°F when you’re out of the house. A programmable thermostat is excellent at lowering costs. And if you time it right, you don’t have to wake up to a cold cold house.
3. Let the sun shine In: While up to 25 per cent of your home’s heat is lost through its windows, they are also a source of solar warmth. During daylight hours, keep your drapes open and let the sun help heat your home. In winter, open the blinds and curtains on the sunny side of the house (the south-facing side) when the sun is shining and close them as soon as the sun goes down to retain the solar heat. Close curtains on the shady side of the house (north-facing side).
4. Curtains made from heavy fabric with lots of folds can prevent cold air from seeping in and warm air from seeping out, which reduces your heating costs.
5. Insulate your windows with plastic window film to reduce heat loss by 50 per cent. We used this on our windows at the back of house in WI, and what a difference it made in our bedrooms! It may not be the most lovely option, but it was worth it.
6. Check to see where drafts may be coming in. Caulk, seal and weather strip around windows and doorframes, baseboards, ducting and electrical outlets (yes, electrical outlets – you’d be amazed at the cold air that can blow in from those!), as well as fireplaces to save up to 20 per cent on your heating bill.
7. Remember to close your fireplace flue when you’re not enjoying a fire.
8. Close interior doors leading to hallways or stairways to keep the heat where it’s needed most. Don’t heat areas of your house you don’t use regularly, such as guest rooms. Close heating vents or turn back thermostats in those areas and close the doors for a painless reduction in heating costs
9. Did you know a bathroom fan can suck all the heated air out of the average house in little more than an hour? Over the course of the winter, ventilation fans can increase your heating costs by a surprising amount. Use both bathroom and kitchen ventilation fans more sparingly in winter.
10. Keep your furnace, heat pump, or other heating equipment in top operating condition. Dirty filters reduce the efficiency of your furnace or heat pump. Poorly tuned units are inefficient and use more fuel.
11. Layer your bedding- Invest in a down comforter for your bed, or layer your bedding for maximum warmth while you sleep. Then, turn down the thermostat and enjoy the savings. If you have more to spend, consider adding down pillows and flannel sheets to your bed as well.
12. Stock up on blankets- Keep blankets handy in your living room, office and any other room of the house where you sit for an extended period of time. It’ll save you numerous trips to the thermostat.
13. Eat warm foods- Soups, stews and other cold weather foods are perfect for keeping the chill off. Compile a collection of cold weather recipes, and then rotate through them regularly. To keep warm between meals, be sure to keep plenty of coffee, cocoa and cider on hand. Often just the warmth of a mug is enough to warm you back up.
14. Make the most of your energy use- Many of our day-to-day activities require the use of electricity, but are you taking full advantage of your consumption? Consider these simple, stay warm ideas:
- Leave the oven open after you cook to take advantage of the heat that’s built up inside. (Note: This isn’t a good idea if you have young children or pets.)
- Wash and dry your bedding just before bed. Warm sheets will spare you the unpleasant experience of slipping into a cold bed.
- Save your dish washing for a time when you’re cold; the warm water will clean your dishes, while giving you a temperature boost.
- Do your computer work when you’re cold; computers give off a surprising amount of heat.
15. Stay busy- Moving around is a great way to keep warm, so grab your chore list and get to work. If you run out of tasks to keep you busy, give exercise a try.
What do you do to keep your heating costs down?
sources: www.theoakvillebuzz.com and www.gardenandhearth.com