Now that winter is here, we are all pulling out pairs of sweatpants and hoodies to try to stay warm. Between the weather getting colder, and the constantly escalating cost of oil and natural gas, making your house as efficient as possible is one of your best investments. Here are 6 low cost home heating tips to consider if you don’t already have them in your home.
Low Cost Tip #1: Thermostat Timers — for anywhere between $50 and $250 for a higher end model you can buy a thermostat timer, which will help you decrease energy bills. The EPA estimates that with one, you can save 10% to 30% on the heating portion of your energy bills. A simple low cost timer should pay for itself within the first winter, certainly the first year of use. Set the timer so the temperature goes down a few degrees in the middle of the day when you’re at work and the middle of the night when you’re asleep. The savings from those few degrees for a couple hours every day will add up very quickly on your energy bills.
Low Cost Tip #2: Windows and Doors — If your windows are framed in wood, or are more than 15 years old, you should consider covering them with energy efficient storm windows to decrease energy bill. Although a significantly larger investment than the thermostat timer, eliminating drafts through your windows will save you money. If you already have storm windows, most hardware stores sell a window insulator kit that can be applied with just a hairdryer. If you notice drafts coming through the bottom of a window or door, a rolled up towel is an easy way to keep cold air out and warm air in. If there are any holes or cracks in the door frame, no matter how small, make sure to seal them with silicone to restrict any airflow.
Low Cost Tip #3: Utilize the Sun — Our good friend the sun churns out more heat than any ceramic space heater ever could. Even though the temperature outside might be cold, if the sun is shining, you can utilize its rays to warm up your home during the day to reduce your bills even further. Open up the curtains or the drapes before you leave for work and close them when you return home at night. Trim or prune any large trees and bushes that might be blocking the sun’s rays from hitting the window and thus heating your house.
Low Cost Tip #4: Cover the Floors — if you have ever walked barefoot on tile or hardwood floors, you understand not only how cold those surfaces can get, but also how cold they can stay. A large area rug can cover a decent portion of the room and help that room stay warm without turning up the thermostat. This energy reducing tip works especially well in the basement, first floor, or garage. You’ll notice the biggest difference where the ground under the house can transfer its cold directly through the floors.
Low Cost Tip #5: Bundle Up — President Jimmy Carter famously told Americans to “Put on a sweater.” It might sound too easy, but you would be surprised how many people lounge around during the winter in the same shorts and t-shirt they wore in June. A thick pair of sweatpants, some slippers, and a hooded sweatshirt will raise your body temperature in a much more efficient fashion than cranking up the thermostat. Try adding not only a layer of clothing around the house, but also a layer of blankets in the bedroom for a warmer, more pleasant night sleep…and another nice decrease in your energy bills!
Low Cost Tip #6: Check your Equipment — Your furnace, boiler, and water heater play a much larger role in your home between the months of December and February. Make sure they are operating at their maximum efficiency to keep your heating costs down. Simple upkeep like changing your finance filter will help it run noticeably better than it would without clear air intake. Many energy suppliers have a program where they will check the furnace for a small fee, sometimes even for free. Take advantage of this if it is available in your area because running your appliances efficiently will help you decrease energy bills single day.
The sooner you can look into the items above for low cost home heating, the more comfortable this winter will be, and you will have noticed a nice decrease in your energy bills.