It’s January and for most of us, it means resolving to eat less, exercise more, and save money. While I can’t help you with the first two, I have learned some everyday tips to help with the last one. A year and a half ago, our family moved into an amazing (and also drafty) mid-century home. The price of heating and cooling was not only a shock when we moved in, but I knew from experience that utility costs are consistently on the rise. Considering the average American household spends around $1,000 per year on utility bills, these are great tips for anyone!
Let me share with you some of the hacks we’ve learned to put a cap on our skyrocketing heating costs.
1. Respect the Furnace
An effective and efficient furnace is one with excellent airflow. If you have things stacked up against your furnace, or if anything might be blocking your furnace air intake, be sure to move them! And be sure to check the air filter on your furnace as well. Take it out and hold it up to the light. If you can’t see light through it, it needs to be changed. Also, improve airflow for your furnace by keeping doors open. This allows the warm air to circulate freely throughout the house.
2. Bundle Up
I know. This brings back bad memories of tightwad dad keeping the thermostat to just above freezing and telling me to throw on a sweater too. But it’s real. Keeping yourself warm instead of the whole house just makes sense. Be especially aware of keeping your feet warm. A great pair of slippers could warm up your feet—which makes your whole body feel warmer.
3. Don't Let Heat Escape
If your mom was like mine, leaving the door open was a sin next to murder. This is probably because being mindful of heat loss is essential in saving money. Make sure windows and doors are closed as well as the chimney flue. Check around windows and doors for drafts and, if needed, get in there with some low-cost weather stripping or caulk to seal any areas that might be allowing cold air to seep inside. Also, make sure bathroom and kitchen ventilation fans are turned off when they’re not in use.
4. Let's Talk Windows
If you hold your hand up to the window and can feel cold air emanating, you might want to consider a few options. One, new windows. This option can be extremely expensive upfront, but over time can save you big on utility costs. If new windows aren’t an option, cover your windows with some heavy drapes or blinds. With our older windows, this has made a huge difference. However, if the sun is shining outside, make sure to open the blinds to let in any natural heat from the sun’s rays.
5. Check That Thermostat!
Lower your thermostat. A few degrees will likely not be the difference between life and death (especially with the aforementioned slippers and sweater!), and it can take 5-10% off your monthly bill. Make sure to lower the thermostat when the house is empty or while everyone is sleeping. If you have a programmable thermostat, you can punch in your preferences and let the thermostat do the adjusting for you.
6. Take Your Thermostat Game to the Next Level!
If you’re interested in saving even more, get a smart thermostat, like a NEST. This learns your household behaviors and adjusts your heating needs accordingly. It automatically goes to an “away” setting when it senses that the house is empty or its occupants are asleep.
7. Take Advantage of Heat Sources
Next time you finish baking, turn the oven off but leave the oven door open to warm the kitchen. After your shower, open the door and let the warm air distribute through the house.
Adding either a whole-home or a room humidifier has a number of advantages. First, humid air makes the home feel warmer. But second, humidity in the cold winter months is great for your skin and hair, and even for wood floors and furniture.
9. Check Your Insulation
Another big factor that could be influencing your home’s ability to hold heat could be your insulation. If you peek into your attic and can see the rafters, you might want to bulk up on insulation. This could help trap in the heat and keep your furnace from working so hard.
10. Schedule a Furnace Checkup!
Just like the winter means colds and bugs for humans, winter means your hard-working furnace could also use a visit from the doctor. In this case, a licensed and certified HVAC professional. In addition to the steps you took in step one, manufacturers recommend you have your furnace checked once a year. A quick checkup—in the industry we call it a tuneup—could help make sure your furnace is running safely and efficiently. It also helps you save money not only now on a better-running furnace, but catching small fixes could save you from big—and costly—repairs down the road.
Posted: January 5th, 2018 @ 12:00am by tammy