As we head into the long winter months, one thing many of us will notice is an increase in our home energy and heating bills. Fewer daylight hours means we turn lights on earlier and cold temperatures prompt us to turn up the heat. Whether you heat with oil, gas, propane, electricity or wood the result is often higher bills. The good news is that there are ways to cut down on energy use and reduce your costs!
If you haven’t already, get yourself a programmable thermostat. Programmable thermostats automatically adjust the ambient temperature to keep your home cozy and comfortable for only a few hours a day – while you’re home – rather than all day long. This can save you as much as 30% on heating costs!
- Set your thermostat to 68 degrees F (20 degrees C) when you’re home. Studies show that each degree your thermostat is set above 68F/20C uses up to 5% more energy. Instead of automatically turning up the heat, warm yourself up in other ways. Pick up a pair of cozy slippers and drape some warm blankets over the couch to encourage your family to cuddle up in front of the tv, for example.
- Lower the temperature when you’re not going to be home. Set your programmable thermostat to reduce the temperature by 10-15 degrees during the hours when no one will be home. This one act can save you as much as 15% per year!
Check for drafts around doors and windows. Caulking can be used to prevent or at least reduce heat loss by filling cracks and gaps that can appear over time. Not using your fireplace? Make sure you close the damper. Many people forget this simple step but it can make a noticeable difference to your home’s temperature during the cooler months.
Improve the insulation. Up to 25% of heat is lost through small cracks and holes throughout a house. Proper insulation in walls, floors and attics can save you approximately 10% in annual heating costs.
Hang some curtains or blinds. Window coverings can be an effective way to keep heat in during colder weather and keep it out during the summer months. If closing the curtains means your furnace doesn’t have to work so hard to maintain a steady temperature, isn’t it worth it? By the same token, summer heat can be reduced if curtains are closed during hot summer days…just remember to open the curtains and windows up to let cooling breezes in during the night.
Pay attention to your heating and cooling systems. Keeping an eye on your HVAC, A/C and furnace and performing regular maintenance will help you avoid costly repairs, save you money on ongoing bills and could prevent you from an unexpected breakdown during the cold weather months. What kinds of things should you be paying attention to?
- Clean filters monthly and replace as needed
- Make sure air ducts and pipes are properly sealed
- Check for and remove dirt and corrosion
- Keep heat exchanger clean to maintain performance
- Make sure all vents are unobstructed. If furniture or curtains block air flow over and around your vents, move the items to ensure heat can easily enter the room.
Got a little more money to put towards the cause? Think about upgrading your old windows. Ensure you’re not losing heat through drafty windows by replacing them with high-efficiency models. In some climates this can save 25-50% on heating and cooling costs each year! Some of the newer models will not only regulate heat loss, can also block exterior noise.