Taking a tour through your house now is a great way to find those winter energy savings.
It doesn’t take much, just a ¼ inch gap somewhere around your windows or basement can be like having a gaping hole in the dead of winter with your heating dollars heading out through that gap.
But there are a few simple tips that can save you money before old man winter takes his toll on your wallet this year. Some cost very little, others are a larger investment, but even just a few of these tips can help save you money on energy this winter.Credit: Morguefile.com
Move around Furniture – If you have your furniture around the outside walls, then you are likely covering up heating registers, therefore warming up your couch instead of you and the room!
By creating a setting whereby your furniture is away from the walls and more in the interior of the room, you are likely to feel warmer. Many people will have their seating not only over the heating registers but under a window where you are likely to feel cold air on your neck and then feel the need to up the thermostat.
You can get heat register deflectors, but I personally have never found these to be very effective, it is better not to cover them up.
Insulated Curtains or Blinds – If you have large windows, even newer more efficient windows they are still going to feel cold on a winter’s night. Consider purchasing or making insulated curtains or blinds. This will trap the cold air between the window and the blind and keep away cold drafts in your space which will trigger the heat to come on.
If you have curtains, you can purchase insulated liners for the winter. They are a cost effective way to save on your heating bill, and can then be removed in the warmer seasons.
Also make sure and have the curtains or blinds wide open when the winter sun is shining in your space, you can take advantage of free solar heat this way, and then make sure and close your curtains or blinds as the sun is leaving the room, this will keep the heat inside.
Turn Off Registers in Unused Rooms – If you have a few rooms that you are not using, you could consider turning down the heat registers so that only a little heat is going into that room. No point in heating a room that is not going to be used, and then close the door.
The above tips are easy, quick and affordable options, if you can afford to spend more money the following are great energy saving tips that you will notice quickly.
Programmable Thermostat – These are fairly easy to install, and can be programmed for your lifestyle. You can get very expensive totally programmable by the hour or you can get a simple one that costs less and simply lowers the heat at night and raises it again in the morning. This is a really cost effective way to save on your heat this year.
Even just a 2 or 3 degree heat reduction at night while you are snuggled under your blankets will help to save on energy costs. You can set it to come back up about ½ hour before you get up if you don’t like the idea of cold mornings!
Adding Insulation – Consider getting additional insulation added to your attic. You can get it blown in which works out well. We had this done to a house and the cozy feeling in the house was almost instant. We used to get colder lower floors and hotter second floors, but once the insulation was blown in, we noticed the even heat throughout the house right away and of course dollars back in our wallet.
Energy Audit – This was one of the best things we did to an older house we had purchased. The house was built in the 70s, and not that well insulated but we just didn’t know where to spend our dollars first, so we had this audit done by a qualified auditor. They simply place a large fan in your front door and seal up the rest of the door, then reverse the air out of your house.
What this does is start to pull the cold air from outside through any openings it can. The auditor will then walk around your house and point out areas that need to be addressed. You can have windows that look well sealed but when this test is done you may find some cold air coming through tiny gaps that will need caulking.
The biggest area that surprised us, was the electrical outlets on outside walls. We had cold air blowing through a handful of them. This was a simple fix, by purchasing insulated gaskets that you put behind these electrical outlet covers we were able to stop the air leaks.
By getting an audit done, you will find the worse spots in your house, and it may surprise you! You will then have a list, and not just be guessing where cold air might be leaking in. In our particular case it was a very badly installed basement window, and the dryer vent had gaps around it and these electrical outlets and our attic hatch.
These audits are approximately 150 dollars, but well worth the cost. There are some programs on that will help you with the costs of upgrades to help with winter energy savings, it would be worth checking with your local electrical and heating companies to find out more about them.
Attic door – Many people will go to the trouble of getting a lot of additional insulation in their attic which is great, but what about the area over the attic hatch or door? In many cases this could be a 2 x 2 foot hatch where the heat from your home can escape to the attic. You need to add rigid insulation to the attic door (attic side) to stop heat loss and a gasket around the opening.
Replacement Windows – This is a large expense, but if your windows are dated and full of leaks, then this would be a good place to invest in your home. At resale new windows will add value to your home. If you can’t quite swing new windows just yet, then consider getting those plastic window kits to help with heat loss this winter. This is an affordable way to keep the heat in and the cold out.
No one wants to spend more on their heating dollars than needed, so by following even just a few of these tips are going to make a difference on your energy costs, and help to keep you comfortable all winter long.