As summer quickly fades into fall, the nights get cooler. The crisp autumn evenings suddenly become cold winter nights. As this shift happens, the furnace we forgot about since early Spring begins blowing toasty warm air. Keeping homes warm in the winter can cause a dramatic increase in utility bills. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to keep your home warm without breaking the bank and optimize your home energy savings.
Routine furnace maintenance is perhaps one of the most important ways ensure that it is operating at peak performance to not only reduce cost but to ensure safety. It is a good idea to have your furnace inspected by professionals during the Summer, before the unit turns on for the first time. If that time has already past for you, it is a good idea to still have it checked. With regular maintenance, a furnace can be expected to live about 18 years, but it is much less if left to its own devices. If your furnace is nearing the end of its life, it may be a wiser investment to replace it. Poor performing furnaces use a lot of energy without creating the comfort you deserve. If your furnace is operating with sub-optimal performance you may be chilly at home and create up to 25% increase on your energy bill! New energy saver heating systems are well worth the investment.
Harness the power of technology to yield cost-effective home heating. Programmable thermostats allow you to pre-set temperatures throughout the day so you can have your home warm while you are there and a little cooler while you’re not home or are snuggled in your bed sleeping. This prevents your furnace from running all the time, saving you energy costs to heat the home when it’s not needed. For each degree that you lower the temperature, you can save between 3-5%, which over a long season adds up!
Creating a Seal
Sealing your home from allowing the cold to enter your home helps to keep your home naturally warmer and prevents your furnace from having to warm cool air that enters. Common ways that cold air enters your home is through unused chimneys, poorly sealed doors and windows, and floors. Seal off any unused chimneys to prevent cold air from entering your home. If you do use your fireplace, it is a great way to turn down your heating system, just remember to turn off the flow when you are done using it to prevent the warm air from escaping. Seal gaps in drafty doors and windows with weatherstripping tape. Make sure that windows are locked tightly to optimize the window’s natural seal. If your windows are in need of repair, you should consider upgrading to energy efficient windows. If that is not an option, you can opt to seal them with plastic sheeting, which is relatively inexpensive and provides a quick “fix” until they can be repaired or replaced. Be sure to keep blinds closed and hang curtains to keep the cold at the window. Concrete, wood, tile, and laminate floors can remain cool as they do not hold heat well. Laying rugs can create a blanket for the floors and help raise the ambient temperature slightly.
Dress for the Weather
To avoid raising your home temperature to comfortable room temperature (on average 72-72 degrees), you can keep your house cooler and dress for the weather. There is no reason to not turn the heat on and bundle up, but when it is 31 degrees outside, 66 inside can feel warm enough. Warm socks or slippers can help you stay comfortable as you move about your home. Wearing a sweater or long sleeve shirts keeps your core warm, making cooler temperatures comfortable. Having clean, dry hair helps to keep your head warm, or of course a hat is an option. If you are settling in, a fleece blanket makes a nice couch throw and a practical way to stay warm without blowing the heat! Hot food and beverages also help by warming you from the inside out (and are tasty too!).
A few small steps can provide you with a warm home in the winter without breaking the bank.