For many, winter is when energy bills can unexpectedly rise as people start heating their homes, but don’t use very efficient methods or make mistakes that cost valuable energy. While newer, more efficient heating systems can always help, you can do a lot with the system you have, and the right practices. Our quick guide will go over the best ways to keep your home warm without wasting fuel or electricity, along with important notes about how heat flows in your home!
Find a Thermostat Compromise that Works for Everyone
If no one is going to be at home or everyone is sleeping in warm beds, then it’s a good idea to set your thermostat back 10 to 15 degrees. This ensures that you aren’t wasting any heat when it’s not needed. That’s a basic step, but you’ll also need to pick a temperature to keep the HVAC system at when people are home and moving around. The best temperature for saving money while keeping the house livable is around 68 degrees.
We know the 68-degree rule can be met with a lot of different reactions, including, “Yeah, right.” It’s not ideal for every household. However, the lower you can keep the temperature on your thermostat while still heating, the more efficient you’ll be. Try to compensate with extra layers and blankets whenever possible and find a temperature compromise that everyone in the house can live with.
Check All Your Weather-Stripping
Weather-stripping is the band of material around your doors and windows, especially those that open to the outdoors. Weather-stripping prevents air from leaking in or out of the small gaps that doors and windows have. Over time, weather-stripping can wear down – or it may not have been installed in the first place, creating a constant leak of warm air out and cold air in. Check your weather-stripping – it’s typically rubber or felt materials – and replace any worn-down or missing weather-stripping to make a big difference.
Set and Use Ceiling Fans
Do you have ceiling fans? If so, make sure to use them during the winter to help heat your home! This may seem a little counter-intuitive, but ceiling fans have an important role to play. Check your fans and make sure they are all set to turn clockwise (counter-clockwise is better for summer, but that’s another topic).
A ceiling fan running clockwise will “pull” air from down below in the room, while “pushing” the air around the ceiling down through displacement. As you may remember from your science lessons, heat always rises, which means these fans are taking the heat in your home and distributing it down where it needs to be. Pair up ceiling fans and heating units for an effective combination.
Keep Your Radiators and Vents Clear
Radiators and vents that spread heat, no matter where they are, need some room to work. They need to be able to push heated air out across as broad a space as possible so that the whole room benefits. Sometimes we find that people crowd their radiators and vents with chairs, sofas, pillows or pet beds. This isn’t a good idea, because it keeps that heat source from working properly. Keep your heat sources clear of furniture and other objects for more efficient heating.
Let Kitchen and Bathroom Heat Spread
Two areas in your house generate a lot of heat all on their own – bathrooms and kitchens. Often, this heat is siphoned out directly by fans. Now, these fans do serve important purposes: They keep moisture from collecting in bathrooms and help control grease or odors in the kitchen. But that’s also a lot of heat going to waste. When possible, turn off the fans and let the heat naturally spread around the house instead. Keep the oven door open after you use it to help even more. Small things like this, when done every day, can add up to a surprising amount of energy.
Close and Open Curtains at the Right Times
Sunlight can be free heat for your house…if you manage it the right way. The problem is that windows can also be cold areas that lower the temperature to your house. To deal with this issue, manage your curtains/drapes/blinds the right way. Open them up and let the sunlight into your house in the morning, paying special attention to the windows that are facing the sun, or will be later in the day. When the sun goes down or it’s a cloudy day, close your curtains to create an extra layer that keeps the cold from your home.
Arrange for HVAC Maintenance
You can easily complete basic steps like replace the filters in your HVAC system, which will help with heating efficiency. However, professional maintenance is needed to help make sure your heating system is functioning properly, and to make any updates if necessary. This is particularly important if you use something like a heat pump, which needs to have proper refrigerant levels to transfer heat inside the house. If it’s been a few years since you arranged an inspection with an experienced cooling and heating company, consider making one before winter is over.