Winter is coming—and with it comes an abundance of snow, ice, and chilly temperatures throughout Maryland and DC. To avoid spending a fortune in energy bills, try finding alternative ways to create a warm and cozy abode. Take the time to reassess your home’s heating system and consider how modifying the design of your home could help reduce the stress on your furnace or heat pump. Here are just a few DIY tips to create a comfy refuge from the bitter outdoors.
1. Replace Furnace Filters Monthly
Replacing your furnace filters at least once a month is important for a number of reasons. First, a clean filter will prevent built-up dirt and dust from affecting your home’s air quality. This is especially important if someone in your home has a respiratory illness or health condition. A buildup of dust and dirt also forces your HVAC system to work harder, which can gradually increase your energy bills.
2. Let in Winter Sunlight
Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the warm sun. Open up the shades or curtains on the west and south sides of your home each morning. Allow the sunlight to fill your home, letting both light and heat in. Once the sun goes down, close the window treatments to keep the heat in.
3. Schedule Routine HVAC Tune-Ups
Before winter hits, you’d be well advised to hire a professional HVAC service to check your system for maximum energy efficiency. Ideally, you should have your HVAC system checked each spring and fall to prepare for the cooling and heating seasons. If something happens to be wrong with your system, a tune-up will catch it before winter strikes. Don’t get stuck without a working furnace when the temperature plummets.
4. Install a Programmable Thermostat
Families can save between 5 and 15 percent a year on their heating bills by turning their thermostat back 10 to 15 degrees for eight hours while they’re away at work or asleep. With a programmable thermostat, you can automatically set it to perform these functions without having to go through the manual process of turning the heat up and down. A programmable thermostat can also be set to turn on before you get home so you return to a cozy house.
5. Run Ceiling Fans in Reverse
One of the simplest ways to cut heating costs and achieve increased energy efficiency is by running your ceiling fans in reverse. In the summer, run your fans in a counterclockwise direction to stay cool. In the winter, reverse the blades so that they run in a clockwise rotation which sends the rising warm air back down into the room.
6. Seal Draughts Around Windows, Doors, and Vents
Windows, door frames, and vents in your home are all vulnerable to air leaks. Take the time to go through your home thoroughly to locate sources of draughts. One way to do this is by slowly moving a candle or lit stick of incense around the edges of an opening. If the flame or smoke flickers, there’s an air leak. Use caulk, weatherstripping, or similar materials to seal the air leaks and eliminate the draughts.
7. Invest in a Whole-House Humidifier
If the winter weather hasn’t already dried out your skin, your house will. Heating your home with a furnace can cause the air to feel dry and uncomfortable. The heat not only affects your skin, but can also irritate your nasal passages. Consider investing in a whole-house humidifier. This innovative machine will help restore dampness to the air. As the house will be more comfortable naturally, you won’t have to turn up your thermostat as high to keep warm.
8. Remove Obstructions from Your Vents
Remember that the vents and registers in your home have a purpose. They allow heated air to flow from your furnace into your home. Furniture and other obstructions placed in front of your vents and registers can prevent you from feeling the full effects of the heat. Inadequate air flow can also result in a buildup in the ducts. Keep these areas free from all obstructions.
9. Add Plastic Sheeting to Interior Windows
If you have an older home with drafty windows, you may be losing a substantial amount of heat through the cracks and crevices. If you’re not able to replace the windows just yet, cover them with plastic sheeting during the winter months. This quick project can help prevent drafts and moisture issues that often occur during the cold winter months.
10. Layer Up
You don’t need to have your thermostat set high to stay cozy. Dress in layers to stay warm. Wear long-sleeve shirts and sweaters during the day, or cuddle with a warm blanket. Slip on a pair of fuzzy socks or slippers as you lose much of your heat through your feet. At night, sport a pair of flannel pajamas or thermal long johns to stay cozy in your bed.
11. Seal Off Unused Spaces
There’s no point in heating spaces in your home that are rarely used or used solely for storage. Save money on your utility bills and keep your living spaces warmer by sealing off these unused rooms. This can be as simple as closing the door to the room. Turn off any electric baseboards in the room and close any opened heat vents or registers.
12. Clean and Inspect Your Fireplace Before Winter
If you use a fireplace or wood stove for heating, be sure to thoroughly clean and inspect it before winter. While your fireplace may seem like it’s in good working order at first look, it could actually be sucking up warm air from your home and transferring it up the chimney. When you’re not using the fireplace, be sure to close the fireplace damper.
Keeping your home warm and cozy during the winter months isn’t always easy. Without the proper preparation, you could be wasting hundreds of unnecessary dollars on energy bills. Before the weather gets too frigid, perform some simple DIY projects and stay cozy all winter long.