When cooler temperatures arrive, your heating bills will go through the roof if you're not careful. With the price of energy at an all time high, becoming energy efficient is more important than ever this winter. Thankfully, there are many projects you can do around your house to save energy and your cash. And most of these projects cost little to no money, making your return on investment worth the cost of time and energy many times over.
How can you save cash in the cold?
Some of the easiest, no-brain ideas to help lower your heating costs is to lower your thermostat, wear extra layers and socks around the house, and sleep with extra blankets on your bed. Lowering your heat by three degrees will reduce your bill by as much as 10 percent. Drop it by even one degree, and you'll save around three percent on your heating bill. Turning your thermostat down 5 to 10 degrees at night and while the house is empty also helps. To make this as easy as possible, install a programmable thermostat and program it for maximum energy savings.
On top of this, you should schedule a professional annual tune-up on your furnace and ductwork. A dirty furnace doesn't work as efficiently and can be a safety hazard. Keep your air filters clean to allow adequate airflow, and seal ductwork with mastic tape instead of duct tape to ensure a solid, long-lasting seal. Another interesting tip is to use a humidifier. You may not know it, but humid air feels warmer than dry air. With a humidifier running, you feel warmer even when the thermostat is set at a lower temperature.
Windows, doors, and attics are all areas through which heat can escape and cold air can seep in. If you notice any drafts around your windows and doors, seal the edges with weather stripping or caulk and use door sweeps at the bottom of doors to block drafts. A one-eighth inch space around a door is equal to a six-inch square open hole in your house. To check for cracks around a door, have someone shine a flashlight around the door. If you see light, seal the door. Regardless, keep all doors - including your garage door - closed as much as possible.
During the day, let the warm sunshine in by opening the curtains on your south-facing windows, and close all curtains and blinds at night to keep in the warmth. If a room in your home is unused, close all the heat registers in the room and keep the doors to the room closed. Since hot air rises, measure the insulation in your attic to make sure you have more than seven inches. If you don't, you should add additional insulation with spray foam, batt, or blanket insulation.
While you may think that using the fireplace to supplement your heat is a good idea, it's not. A traditional fireplace actually sucks heat out of the house to fuel the fire. The heat then escapes up the chimney, causing your furnace to make up the heat difference. If you prefer to heat your home this way, replace your fireplace with a wood or pellet-burning stove. When the fireplace isn't in use, close the flue and seal the opening shut.