Unless you’re fortunate enough to live in a warm climate, keeping your house warm is vital in the winter. The downside is that it can cause your heating bill to go through the roof. Fortunately, it is possible to keep your home cozy without straining the household budget. Here are some simple ways to lower your heating costs.
1) Set Your Thermostat
Thermostats have one job to do and that’s to keep the surrounding space at a constant temperature. If you have a thermostat in each room, all you have to do is decide how warm you want each room to be, then let them do their job. Note that while playing around with your thermostat is usually counterproductive, you can save up to 10 percent on your energy bill by lowering it 10 degrees Fahrenheit at night. Of course, this means that you’ll need heavier blankets and thicker pajamas to stay warm.
2) Fill in the Gaps
Since you already have to spend money keeping your house warm, it makes no sense to let that heat escape. Poorly sealed window frames, electrical sockets, and lighting fixtures are a major cause of heat loss in many homes. You can actually notice this when the wind is blowing, since drafts tend to come in through those gaps. It shouldn’t take a lot of work to seal these gaps with foam strips, expanding foam, or caulk. Remember that while ventilation is necessary, it has to be controlled.
3) Turn Down the Water Heater
Water heaters take a long time to cool down, because they’re able to store a tremendous amount of heat. Most of them are set to 140 degrees Fahrenheit at the factory, by default. You can save at least five percent off the cost of your water-heating by simply turning the unit’s temperature down 10 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit. The difference in temperature is likely to go unnoticed.
4) Take Advantage of the Sun
Before there was electricity to provide light and warmth, people relied largely on the sun. It’s easy to forget about the sun when you spend most of your time inside, but it’s still out there, it’s free, and it’s quite capable of doing the job. All you have to do is keep your curtains open during daylight hours, especially on the sides of your home where the sun hits most. Be sure to trim any shrubs or branches around your windows that may be blocking it from entering. Remember to close your curtains at night, to keep drafts from getting in.
5) Utilize Your Ceiling Fan
The direction in which your ceiling fan is turning determines where the air will go. When you’re hot, you’re supposed to set its direction to push the air downward, so it can hit you directly. However, when you’re cold, this feels like an unwelcome draft against the skin. The solution is to reverse the fan’s directional setting, so it can pull the warm air upward, causing it to run back down the walls and circulate throughout the room. Keep in mind that warm air rises, but it doesn’t help much when it stays up there.
6) Dress Warmly
One of the easiest ways to keep warm is to wear warm clothes. That closet full of sweaters won’t do much good if you never put them on. The same applies to warm socks and thermal underwear. The advantage in dressing warmly is that you can actually keep the warm air closer to your body, where it does the most good, instead of losing it throughout the rest of the house. It also allows you to turn the thermostat down a few degrees and save some hard-earned money.
Exercise forces your body to burn calories. Food energy is converted into adenosine triphosphate (ATP) in a chemical reaction that produces energy and generates heat, temporarily increasing your body temperature. The more you exercise, the more calories you’ll burn and the warmer you’re likely to feel. Keep in mind that while deliberate exercise works best, all movement forces the body to burn calories for energy. This is why you feel warmer when your body’s in motion.
While these tips involve relatively minor changes, their benefits add up. All you have to do is take a good look around your home to identify these problem areas. Simple adjustments are often all that’s needed to reduce your energy consumption without sacrificing too much well-deserved comfort.