Brrrrr. The cold is here to stay for a few months and your energy bills are climbing higher and higher. How can you save money on those heating bills? Here are a few quick tricks for cost and resource savings!
- Check for leaks.
You might have not noticed a draft in the summer, but now that your back is (literally) against that old window every night, you’ll feel a chill against your neck if the seal isn’t good. Need more help than just a skin test? You can hire a professional check with a heat camera (try your local plumber or a general contractor for recommendations) and you can visualize your hot (and cold) spots room by room.
- Change your fans.
Overhead fans are nice in the summer, but did you know they just move air around? In the summer they should spin counter-clockwise to pull cool air UP and in the winter, you should spin them clockwise to push rising hot air back down. There should be a simple switch on the side of each fan.
- Dust those vents.
Keeping air moving swiftly through your central heating system is a must, so while you’re dusting off that ceiling fan, take your vacuum or hire a professional to clean out the gunk from your heat registers, too. You’ll find the air smells better when you’re not getting whiffs of last year’s dust bunnies.
- Check the vents are clear.
In addition to clear vents, you should go through each room and make sure the vents are all open in places where you want heat. It will make sure that your system is running efficiently in the summer as well as winter. Since your system was designed as a full organism (i.e., your home), it needs to be open completely or else buildup can happen where air is trapped, so don’t try closing vents to ‘save money’ – it won’t work that way.
- Check your water temp.
Yes, hot showers are great, but not TOO hot, especially for your pocket book. You can adjust the maximum heat your water heater goes up to down from 140 F to 120 F if you like, and not notice much of a change in your shower routine. NOTE: Be sure before you make that switch that your newer dishwasher or clothes washer doesn’t need that super hot heat to do its work. Check the manual to be sure, or contact the manufacturer.
- Try a smart thermostat.
Everything is getting “smart” these days, and a smart thermostat – one that you can program for certain times of the day – is a great way to save on energy. Products like Nest can be programed with an app, and even “learn” your patterns to help you save on heat or cooling. Plus, you’ll get a monthly summary to check how you’re doing and what you could do better.
- Turn off those lights!
Holiday lights are great, and wide-open windows show a cheery scene from the street, but having every light on even when you’re not using them just wastes energy. Try putting outside decorations (hopefully with energy-saving LED lights) on a timer so they’re not on all night and when you leave a room, switch the lights off.
- Put on a sweater.
Yep, your mom was right. Try adding some comfy throw blankets or a few cozy wraps to your normally chilly family room, instead of blasting the heat for movie night. Cuddling up with the family is a great way to make some warm winter memories without blowing through your heating budget.
- Power off the vampires.
That new gaming device, those big plasma-screen TV, or even that family computer that’s always on – if they’ve got an “on” light, they’re still sucking in some energy even if nobody is using them. For quick energy stoppage, try a one-switch power strip to save time powering down, especially when you’re out of the house or everyone’s asleep. Don’t let powerful electronics suck you dry.
- Use the sun.
Have some nice south-facing windows? Open up those curtains during the day to let the sun shine in and warm up those rooms. When you’re hit with the blast of sun in the summer, you’ll remember to keep the curtains closed for the same reason. Best of all: that sunlight is free!
Here’s to staying warm and cozy this winter!