Fall is in full swing, and the costs to heat your home are starting to add up. As winter approaches, you might already be looking for ways to save money without having to invest in HVAC system upgrades. Here are some ideas for lowering your heating bills without breaking the bank.
When it’s cold outside, it doesn’t make sense to run around your house dressed like it’s the middle of July. Even if you’re just sitting around the house, wear long pants, thick socks and a sweatshirt. It doesn’t cost a penny to dress more warmly, and by doing so, you can bump the thermostat down a few degrees.
Now’s the time to go into your linen closet and break out those soft, thick blankets. Make sure you have them around your living room so you can grab one when you’re relaxing at home with a movie or your favorite Netflix series. Not only will blankets help you stay warm, but you can also use them to add a cozy decorative touch to your home.
You probably already know that doors and windows are sources of heat loss, but you might be surprised to learn how much heat you lose through the floors, as well. If you have hardwood or tiled floors, use throw rugs liberally throughout the house so you won’t have the unpleasant experience of stepping on cold floors. Put non-skid pads underneath rugs to help them stay in place and keep your family safe.
When the mercury drops, you probably don’t want to open any windows. Look for inexpensive kits for covering windows and doors at your local hardware or home goods store. These window and door coverings can help eliminate drafts and keep the heat where it belongs, while still allowing the light to come in.
When nobody is home, or everyone is bundled up snug in bed, why keep the thermostat on full blast? You can turn the temperature down a few degrees overnight, or when everyone is away during the day. Adjust the thermostat manually, or invest in a programmable thermostat that will automatically raise and lower your home’s temperature for you.
Turning down the heat doesn’t mean keeping it at Arctic temperatures. However, turning it down to between 65 to 67 degrees overnight or while you’re gone can make a big difference. A cooler temperature might even help you sleep better.
Space heaters can help you save money on your energy bills, but use them wisely. Only run them if you are in the room. When you leave the room, make sure to turn off your space heater. Invest in a space heater with an auto-off feature so if someone tips it over accidentally, it shuts itself off. Be sure to leave at least three feet of room around your space heater, and don’t put it too close to anything flammable, such as bedding or curtains.
Never leave a heater running when you are asleep or away from home. Finally, when running the heater, watch for signs of overheating. Make sure the cord, wall outlet and plug do not feel warm to the touch. If they do, unplug it immediately, and do not use the heater again until you have had a qualified repair person check it.
The amount of heat your home loses through seemingly insignificant cracks can be surprising. Use caulk or silicone to fill in any cracks in doors, windows and other openings – including the seam along the floors and walls of your garage or basement. A tube of silicone or caulk only costs a few dollars, and it’s an easy weekend project.
Plug any holes in walls to limit heat loss. And, speaking of holes in walls, you can insulate electrical outlets and light switches to prevent heat loss. Use expanding spray foam to seal between the metal outlet box and the drywall. Trim off the excess and replace the cover.
Many people try to save money by fully closing or sealing the vents in rooms they don’t use. While this might seem like a good idea, you could damage your HVAC system by restricting the air that is able to circulate through your ducts. Doing this also forces your entire system to work harder, which will burn out parts quicker.
Instead of closing vents all the way, leave them partially open so the air can still circulate and the HVAC can work the way it is designed to do. The same concept applies to the doors of any rarely used rooms – leave them open or only partially closed.
Weatherstripping is a flexible product that is easy to install around windows and doors. If you have an older home, you may find installing weatherstripping saves you significantly on your energy bills.
There are several types of stripping available, so be sure to buy the kind that will work best for your circumstances and hold up to the wear and tear it may experience. If you are not certain what is best, ask an expert at the hardware store for recommendations. The price of this product varies, but is generally affordable.
Seal the tops, sides and bottoms of doors and windows, as well as the access to attic spaces. You can also install door sweeps on the bottoms of exterior doors. They will lessen the amount of air that escapes through that crack.
Cover up the attic entry with plastic wrap, pieces of insulation, old blankets, weatherstripping, painter’s dropcloth or even a few towels. Any of these materials will help slow, if not stop, the drafts and warm air from floating away through your roof. Heat rises and may be getting pulled right up through the attic, so you may not notice a cold draft even though your expensive hot air is escaping.
Finally, if you have a ceiling fan, change its direction. Since warm air rises, a ceiling fan can help push this warmer air from the ceiling back down into the room. Fans should rotate clockwise in the winter. Be sure to run them on their lowest setting.
All these tips are old-fashioned, common-sense thoughts that only take a few minutes and maybe a few dollars here and there to implement. True, following this advice won’t save you thousands, as a large-scale upgrade like replacing all your doors and windows would, but it will help you save as much as possible with the resources you already have on hand.
If you are looking for more smart ways to save money on your heating bills this winter, reach out to the team at Maichle’s Heating, Air Conditioning and Plumbing. Now that cold weather is just around the corner, you can look forward to staying warm and ensuring your family’s comfort by knowing who to call.