Home heating costs aren’t getting any cheaper so it’s more important than ever to access energy savings wherever you can. Here are just a few ways to stay safe and lower your heating bills this year.
Use Passive Solar
Passive solar involves using the sun’s rays to your advantage to heat your house. This can be as easy as opening blinds and curtains on the sunny side of your home and closing ones that receive little light. Be certain to close these window coverings once the sun starts to set.
Seal Leaky Windows
Many homeowners have older, inefficient windows in their home. However, windows are expensive and they may not be able to afford new ones at this time. Luckily, you have several inexpensive options to help you seal leaky windows that allow cold air into your home.
First, start by caulking around the exterior of all windows. Next, consider a window sealing kit that adheres to the interior frame. When sealed properly it greatly reduces air infiltration and still allows light into the room.
Finally, choose heavy insulating drapes to reduce drafts, retain heat, and lower your heating bills.
Don’t Forget Doors
Ensure each exterior door is equipped with weather stripping and a door sweep. Check the exterior caulking and replace where necessary.
If you have a garage, consider buying an insulation kit. Insulating the door may raise the temperature by as much as 10 degrees within the garage and that can lead to lower heating bills.
Programmable thermostats allow you to set the times your heat turns off and turns on. They are relatively inexpensive to buy and worth the investment.
Most thermostats provide at least four temperature changes a day and an additional variation for the weekend. Set it for between 50 and 60 degrees while you’re sleeping or away and then have it kick in to bring your home to room temperature when you need it.
Service Heating Systems
A well-maintained heating system is more efficient, which lowers heating bills. Regular maintenance also extends the useful life of all equipment. Considering the cost of a furnace or heat pump, it’s definitely worth doing.
A heating professional can check how well the equipment functions, clean all components, change filters, test efficiency, and recommend repairs, if necessary.
Heating equipment includes fireplaces, wood stoves, and chimneys too. An annual inspection and cleaning detects potential problems and eliminates dangerous accumulations that can lead to fire. Heating equipment is the second most common cause of home fires, after cooking.
If you never use your fireplace or wood stove, a chimney professional can properly seal the flue to prevent heat loss. If you love a fire during cold weather, keep the damper closed unless the fire is burning. Consider installing a system that blows warm fireplace air back into the room.
Turn Down Water Heater
Almost all water heaters offer a variety of temperature settings, but most homeowners have theirs set to 140°F. However, the warm setting offers 120°F, which is still hot, but not scalding.
Lowering the temperature 20 degrees can cut your hot water tank’s energy consumption by as much as 10 percent. Since hot water heating accounts for up to a quarter of a household’s total energy usage, this small adjustment can provide big energy savings.
Space heaters offer a great way to add heat to a room. Look for features such as a programmable thermostat, multiple heat settings, oscillation, and cool touch as well as automatic shutoff if the unit tips over or gets too hot.
Choose a heater based on the square footage of the room. Always operate the heater well away from combustible materials and never plug it into a power bar or extension cord. Heaters create plenty of energy which can cause a power bar or extension cord to overheat and start a fire.
Smoke Detectors & Fire Extinguisher
Increased use of heating equipment increases fire risk. If you haven’t already done it, install smoke detectors on every floor of your home. Test them monthly and replace any units over seven years old.
Buy a fire extinguisher or check the one you own is charged and not beyond its expiration date. The US Fire Administration offers comprehensive information on how to buy the correct extinguisher and how to use it properly.
No wants to think about a fire in their home, but it can happen. If you haven’t done an insurance review recently, talk to your agent. They’ll align your coverage with your needs to reduce your risk. The last thing you want to discover is that you’re underinsured when you need your coverage the most.