Winter is in full swing, and for many households, that means an uptick in utility bills.
Why? It happens for a few reasons. For one, people tend to spend more time indoors in the winter, which in itself can increase energy usage. Additionally, your home heating system is working intensely to keep your home cozy while the cold weather blasts all around it.
Clearly, keeping our homes nice and toasty during the winter can be a real money drain. But there are ways to help boost the heat inside that also help you save money on those dreadful energy bills. Let’s explore.
Adjust Ceiling Fans
Drew Mansur, co-founder and director of TileCloud, finds that many people don’t know this very simple fact: ceiling fans aren’t just for summer!
“They actually have a switch you should flip to change the direction they rotate in and use them in the colder months,” Mansur said. “In winter, they should be going clockwise (at a low speed). This way, they push the warm air that rises to the ceiling back down into the room.”
Use Curtains and Drapes
Window coverings don’t only help keep unwanted sunlight out, protect your privacy and add flair to your abode; they also create a barrier against heat loss.
“If you close them at night to retain heat and then open them during the day to let sunlight in you can help reduce some of your need for additional heating sources,” said John Gabrielli, HVAC heating and air conditioning expert and owner of Air Temp Solutions.
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Maximize Tile Insulation
Who knew tiles were so much more than just decorative. They also play a big factor in how warm your home can get in the cold months.
“Tiles, especially porcelain ones, can get pretty cold in winter,” Mansur said. “Using rugs on tile floors or other cold hard floors provides insulation and keeps your feet warm. It’s an easy-to-implement-and-adjust solution that adds warmth and style to your space.”
Seal Gaps and Cracks
Even the littlest gap in your window can cause heat to pour out of your home (and the cold to rush in), driving up your energy bill. This is an easy DIY fix.
“Use caulk or weather-stripping to seal gaps around windows and doors,” Mansur said. “It keeps warm air in and stops cold air from entering, which keeps you warmer and saves you money on heating costs.”
Consider Window Cling
“I’m a big fan of window cling, which is like saran wrap, that you can use a hair dryer for and put over your window,” said Kat Christie, DIY expert and licensed contractor at Fresh Starts Registry.
“It is so straightforward, removable and it blocks drafts. And you can see through it — and there’s no mess!”
Clean Your Heating System
A dirty heating system can lead to higher energy bills. Fortunately, they are able to be cleaned.
According to Mike Monaghan, owner at Woodstove Fireplace Glass, “For radiators (non-electric), you can mix a solution of soap and water and pour this through the radiator, making sure to catch the water with another bucket at the bottom. This helps remove dust and dirt that can make your radiators less efficient at heating your home.
“If you have a fireplace, having it professionally cleaned to remove the built-up creosote can improve the heat output, meaning you’ll get more value out of the materials you burn,” Monaghan said. “In between professional cleans, you should also clean your fireplace after every use to prolong the build-up and save you more money in the long run.”
Check Your Chimney
Did you know that chimneys can be a source of cold air leaks and other issues in the winter? Get ahead of this problem by servicing and inspecting your chimneys ASAP.
“Clear any obstructions, check the damper for functionality, check the chimney draft, inspect the firebrick in the fireplace and have the chimney properly cleaned,” said Kriss Swint, director of marketing communications at Westlake.
“This will all ensure that the fireplaces and wood stoves are in good condition for the colder months, while guaranteeing that they aren’t letting in more of the elements than they need to.”
Get a Programmable or Smart Thermostat
“While you may be tempted to simply turn the heat off, it’s actually better to adjust the temperature several degrees,” said Heidi Gehring, CSSBB, director and residential HVAC product management at Carrier.
The type of thermostat you have really matters when it comes to your energy bill(s). Invest in one that lets you turn the heating down (but not off), when nobody is home.
“A programmable thermostat can make turning down the heat automatic,” Gehring said. “Depending upon the model, you can set different temperatures for when you are home, away or asleep. Better yet, get a Wi-Fi connect smart thermostat that makes automatic adjustments and can be controlled remotely with a smartphone.”
Make the Most of Dinner Time
Cooking at home with your oven can actually help you save money not just on food, but on heating costs.
“After you’ve cooked and turned off your oven, leave the door open and enjoy the residual heat,” said Christine Ciavardini, client relationship manager at MD Energy Advisors. “It’s a great way to take the chill out of the house.”
Insulate Your Water Heater
Your water heater is a super important piece in the whole puzzle of a warm house. You can make it more efficient by wrapping it in insulation. By doing this, Ciavardini said, “you can save 10% on your electricity and water heating costs.”
Talk to Your Local Utilities Provider
It’s smart to check in with your local utility and ask about their energy efficiency programs and incentives.
“Many utilities offer free energy efficiency items to their ratepayers, complimentary energy efficiency audits and generous incentives and rebates for equipment replacement,” Ciavardini said.
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