According to the Department of Energy, heating and cooling make up about 48 percent of the energy used in the typical U.S. home. Fortunately, you do not need to sacrifice comfort to stay warm this winter. There are many ways you can slash your heating bill to save money without turning your thermometer down low. Explore new ways to shave your energy bills and observe energy efficiency.
1. Install a Programmable Thermostat
If you have yet to make the investment, a programmable thermostat can help you save substantially on your heat bills. Energy Star estimates a savings of approximately $180 annually with the proper use of pre-programmed settings. With a programmable thermostat, you can program the heat to turn down automatically when you are asleep or at work. You can also program it to come back on at a scheduled time.
2. Have Your Heating System Serviced
The last thing you want is to have your heater break down in the middle of winter. To reduce the risk of repairs, have your heating system serviced at least once per year (preferably in the fall) to ensure that it is working at peak capacity. Also take the time to complete simple maintenance tasks, such as changing your air filter, which will help your heating system work more efficiently.
3. Minimize the Use of Exhaust Fans
If you have exhaust fans in your kitchen or bathroom, use them sparingly. In the winter, exhaust fans pull the warm air that rises to the ceiling out of the house, forcing your heating system to work harder. It takes just minutes for an exhaust fan to ventilate the average room. Immediately shut off exhaust fans after use.
4. Cover Up Bare Floors
It can be tempting to turn your thermostat up a few degrees when walking across a cold floor. Make your home feel cozier by covering your floors with carpets or rugs. If you prefer to keep your floors bare, wear heavy socks or slippers around the house to keep your feet warm. Slipper socks also work well to prevent you from slipping on bare floors.
5. Seal Your Ductwork
Some homeowners believe that cleaning their ductwork will lead to greater energy efficiency. However, cleaning alone is unlikely to make a big difference when it comes to cutting your heat bill. Instead, hire a professional to seal your ducts. The average ductwork loses 25 to 40 percent of heating and cooling energy put out by a heat pump, furnace, or air conditioner, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Sealing your ductwork prevents the loss of warm air through leaks which can save you a substantial amount of money. Today there are more effective ways to seal ducts, including a newer technology known as aerosealing.
6. Eliminate Drafts Around Your Home
Drafts around windows and doors are a major cause of heat loss in the winter. Before winter hits, take the time to insulate drafty windows using a caulk or a window insulator kit. Drafts around your doors can be eliminated with weather stripping or door sweeps. When you get rid of drafts around your home, your furnace does not have to work as hard to keep your home warm.
7. Close the Fireplace Damper
When your fireplace is not in use, remember to close the damper. During the winter months, leaving the damper open allows heat to escape. Keeping the damper closed not only prevents heat loss but also keeps cold drafts out. However, you will want to remember to open the damper immediately before you light a fire in your fireplace.
8. Hang Heavy Curtains
Curtains act as an extra layer of insulation over drafty windows. In the morning, open the curtains to allow sunlight to flow in your home which will help naturally heat up the house. In the evening, close the curtains to help keep the heat in. This is one of the most prominent practices of energy efficiency as it promotes proper flow of sunlight.
9. Reverse the Blades on Your Ceiling Fans
A simple way to reduce your heating bill is by putting your ceiling fans in a clockwise rotation. Running your ceiling fans in reverse forces warm air down and draws cool air up. Set the ceiling fan on low to avoid further cooling off your home.
10. Transfer Heat from Other Sources
Take advantage of heat from other appliances in your home throughout the day. After cooking dinner, leave the oven door open to allow the heat to escape into the home. The same can be done with the dryer after a load is finished. It is important to use your best judgment if you live in a home with pets or small children. You should of course never leave your oven open with a child in the home.
11. Hire a Chimney Sweep
Fireplace use energy efficiency to heat your home during those long, chilly months of winter. Before the start of the cold season, hire a chimney sweep to undergo a full chimney inspection and cleaning. A professional chimney cleaning service will ensure that your chimney is working at its peak so that you can generate enough heat to warm your home without relying too heavily on the furnace.
12. Layer On Warm Clothing
While it may seem like common sense, many people forget the most basic way to save on your heating bills. Turn your thermometer down a couple of degrees and layer on some warm clothing. Throw on a long sleeve shirt and a comfy sweater to snuggle in. Do not forget a pair of warm socks. Blankets can also help keep you warm as you are watching TV or reading in bed.
Winter brings lazy days watching movies and cozy nights sipping cocoa. However, it also brings colder temperatures and rising heat bills. The good news is you can achieve better energy efficiency by making a few simple changes in your home. Most of these solutions are fairly inexpensive and easy to implement. If you continue to have problems heating your home or are experiencing uncommonly high heat bills, hire an HVAC professional to inspect your heating system.