Well, the time is upon us. Winter is here and it’s going to get cold for just about everyone. If you live in Hawaii or another year round warm area then you can skip this post.
The Energy Information Administration forecasts that the average household will spend $928 on heating their home this winter. You could buy a Mac for that! Well…almost anyway. Here are some tips I learned throughout my life, mainly from my father and I have used the internet to verify them and add a few more facts.
1. Turn Down the thermostat: My dad has some kind of radar that tells him as soon as anyone touches his thermostat. It’s scary. He usually keeps his home at 65-68 degrees and it seems he can feel even if it is one degree off. The rule of thumb is that you save a whopping 3% on your heating bill for every degree you set it back. If you turn it down 10 degrees when you go to work and again when you go to bed (What are you crying about? You have blankets don’t ya?) you can save another 14%.
2. Use Fans Wisely: You know those fans in your kitchen that suck up the smoke from when you tried to make that blackened catfish as a romantic dinner for your wife? Well, those things can suck out a house full of warm air in an hour! Make sure to turn it off when you stop choking! Same goes for that fan in the bathroom too.
3. Keep The Fireplace Damper Closed: Heat rises (duh) and having an open damper is a big hole in the roof! Limit the use of the fireplace as well. Fires actually suck the heat from the room.
4. Turn Down The Water Heater: Keep it at about 115 – 120 Degrees (46.1 – 48.8 Celcius for those across the pond). It reduces power use and you will not notice a difference when you’re in the shower scrubbing those dead skin cells off, assuming you do that.
5. Keep Heating Vents Clear: Sounds like common sense but I have seen several homes where the vents are blocked or covered by rugs or furniture. The air cannot circulate correctly and it makes the heater work that much harder.
6. Use Curtains: Open curtains facing South during the day. you know how your car gets warm from the greenhouse effect? Same principle here, you would be surprised how much heat you can get from just sunlight. The cat sits in the South window for a reason you know. Closing the curtains at night helps to retain the heat longer.
Other things worth mentioning include:
- Winterize your windows ($6 will buy enough plastic film to cover 3 windows)
- Buy a “low-flow” shower head
- Buy a smart thermostat and set it to change the temperature when you go to work/bed automatically
- Keep your furnace in shape. A $3 – $16 that is clogged can lower the efficiency or even shut down your unit
And here’s one final tip my dad taught me. Go into the attic and look for black-stained areas on the edges of the fiberglass. That’s dust, and it shows where air is flowing up out of the living space. Sealing that area first will do more good than simply piling on more insulation.