We’re knee deep in winter weather in Southern Maryland right now, and many of the tips for saving money on your heating bills include projects that should have been done in autumn. But if your home feels a bit draftier than it should, and you’re worried about your money dancing away from your pocket this winter, take heart. There are some things you can do right now to stop the money-bleed and warm up your home.
Turn down your thermostat. We’re starting with the obvious, but “for every degree you lower your heat in the 60-degree to 70-degree range, you’ll save up to 5 percent on heating costs,” according to ConsumerEnergyCenter.org. In addition, set the thermostat to 55 degrees at night, and you’ll save an extra 5 to 20 percent off your utility bill. Layer on the sweats and sweaters, and you’ll be the one in the neighborhood laughing all the way to the bank.
Use your curtains. Drapes on your windows will help to hold heat in the room. Use heavy fabrics like velvet during the winter months and think about backing them with insulated fabric. Those drapes, though, can also block the cheapest means of heating your home: The sun. If sunshine is expected, open curtains on windows on the south-facing side of the house in the morning before you leave for work and on the weekends. Keep them closed at night and on dreary days to help insulate your home from the cold.
You can also use curtains in doorways that divide rooms. This will help keep the drafts in those rooms from entering others. Called “portieres,” these types of curtains were common in homes during the Victorian era.
And, while we’re speaking of windows, you can also consider exterior shutters that will keep howling wind from seeping in around your windows.
Reverse your ceiling fans. Changing the direction of your fans will help pull cool air up. Stand under your fan and watch the blades spin; in the winter, they should turn clockwise. You can change the direction using the fan’s remote control. Older fans will have a toggle switch on the fan itself. If you have vaulted or cathedral ceilings, skip this tip. Your fan is mounted too high for the technique to work.
Close the fireplace. Traditional fireplaces suck warm air up the chimney and pump it out of the house. ComsumerEnergy.org suggests not even using it during the winter. If you decide to do that, buy a piece of insulation and use it to block the chimney. If you still want to use the fireplace, close the vent (after hot embers have died down, of course) when it’s not in use.
Use a humidifier. Central heat can by dry, and this makes everything feel a little colder than it is. On the other hand, moist air holds heat better and natural feels warmer. Using a humidifier – even just in the room where you spend the most time – will let you set your thermostat a little lower.
There are several myths that you should know about when you’re trying to find ways to save energy. Let’s debunk one of the biggest: Close the vents in unused rooms.
We’ve all heard that we should close the heat vents in rooms that we don’t use and seal off the room from the rest of the home. That’s hogwash, say HVAC experts because modern forced air heating systems require a balanced pressure load throughout the house. Blocking one or more vents throws the load off balance, causing the system to work harder and eventually breaking down. The Family Handyman suggests that you speak to an HVAC professional before closing heat vents.
Remember, there are plenty of ways to save and if you’re serious, you might want to take a look at your insulation and HVAC as soon as the weather permits so next winter brings even more savings.
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