Sure, we’re knee-deep in winter weather right now and many of the tips to save money on heating bills include projects that should’ve been undertaken in autumn. But, if you’ve been feeling that your home is a bit draftier than it should be and the visions you have this holiday season are of dollar bills dancing away from your pocketbook, take heart. There are still some things you can do right now to help stop the money-bleed and warm up your home.
Turn down your thermostat – Ok, so we start 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. Furthermore, set the thermostat to 55 degrees at night and you’ll save an additional 5 to 20 percent off your utility bill. Bundle up in sweats and sweaters and you’ll be the one in the neighborhood laughing all the way to the bank.
Use Those Curtains – Drapes on the windows will help to hold heat in the room. Use heavy fabrics, such as velvet, in the winter and consider backing them with insulated fabric. Drapes, however, can also block the cheapest means of heating your home – the sun.
If everyone returns home long after the sun has set, opening these curtains at that time may not be a means of saving energy. But, if sunshine is expected, throw those curtains that rest on south-facing windows wide before you leave for work in the morning and on the weekends. Keeping them closed at night and on dreary days will help insulate the home from the cold. Curtains can also be used in doorways that divide rooms and will help keep the drafts in those rooms from entering others. These types of curtains are known as portieres, common in homes during the Victorian era.
Speaking of windows – Consider exterior shutters to keep the howling wind from seeping around the windows.
Reverse your ceiling fan – Reverse the direction of spin on your ceiling fan to help pull cool air up. Stand under the fan and watch the blades spin – they should rotate clockwise in the winter. To change the direction, use the remote control. If you have an older fan that lacks a remote, you should find a toggle- switch on the unit, just below the blades. If you have vaulted or cathedral ceilings, the fan is mounted too high for this technique to work.
Close the fireplace – Since traditional fireplaces suck warm air up the chimney and pump it out of the house, consumerenergy.org suggests that you not even use it during the winter. If you decide to take them up on that, purchase a piece of insulation and use it to block the chimney. If you still want to use the fireplace, close the vent (after all hot embers have died down) when it’s not in use.
Use a Humidifier – Central heating can be very drying. And this makes everything feel a little colder than it is. Moist air, on the other hand, holds the heat better and naturally feels warmer. Using a humidifier, even in just the room you spend the most time in, will allow you to set the thermostat a little lower. There are also some myths that you should be aware of when trying to find ways to save energy. Let’s take a look at one of the biggest:
Close off 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. Hogwash, say HVAC experts. 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, 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.