Try as we might to save energy – turning off lights when we leave a room, unplugging “phantom” appliances when we’re not using them, waiting until we have a full load of laundry or dishes, air drying our clothes – all of our hard-won gains can literally blow right out the window when it comes to home heating. After all, nobody wants to be cold and uncomfortable all winter long. Try these helpful, and easy, tips, and you can conserve heating fuel this winter without suffering from hypothermia:
– Seal up any visible cracks and gaps in your house, install adequate insulation, check that ducts are sealed, and choose energy efficient windows when replacing old ones. A home energy auditor can help to identify poorly insulated areas and evaluate the energy efficiency of your home. Many communities and organizations even offer home energy audits for free.
– Keep your thermostat between 65 and 70 degrees (or even lower, if you can handle it) when you’re home and awake, and 58 degrees overnight or when you’re away for more than two hours. (Households with elderly residents or very young children should be kept a bit warmer at night, though). A timer for your thermostat may help you to regulate these timed temperature changes.
– Put on a sweater. Why heat up your whole home when you’re just using one room? Dress for the season. Don’t expect to be comfortable in shorts and a tank top when it’s snowing outside. Put on layers, even indoors, and bundle up under blankets when you’re not moving around. Use several blankets at night to keep your body warm enough without warming your whole home.
– Lower the thermostats on your water heater to the lowest comfortable level. (A setting of 120 degrees is about right for most people). Each 10-degree decrease saves five percent on water heating costs!
– Be sure your attic is properly ventilated, and insulated. A warm attic steals heat from the rest of the house, and does no one any good.
– Keeping your registers or radiators clean can make your home warmer with less energy, and save you money. Dust acts like an insulating blanket, trapping the heat.
– Your radiators will heat more efficiently if you place a piece of aluminum foil behind each one. The foil reflects heat back into the room, instead of allowing it to be absorbed into the wall.
– To promote cleaner air when burning wood in your fireplace or woodstove, be sure that the wood you use is 100% untreated, has been seasoned for at least nine months, and is not painted.
– On the coldest nights, pull down window shades to keep heat from escaping. During the day, keep blinds and drapes open to let in the sunshine. Keep shrubs around your home trimmed back, so they don’t block the sun from entering your windows.
– Shut off the heat in unused rooms. It’s simple, just shut off the radiator valve or close the vent. Closing off a spare room in winter will be more effective if you stuff a plastic dry cleaner bag under the door to keep the cold air from escaping into the house.
– If you have a fireplace, close the dampers when it’s not in use.
– Insulate your electrical outlets. One of the most overlooked ways cold air can get into your house is through the outlets. Remove the outlet covers and insert insulation pads underneath. Cap off any outlets that are not being used.