Now is the time to get your home ready for the cold, winter weather ahead! Follow these eight energy saving tips to lower your heating bill this winter.
1. Seal Windows and Doors
Check the weatherstripping around windows and doors for cracks, and repair or replace it if needed. Gaps in thresholds under exterior doors are easy to overlook so shine a light under the door and check the other side for light to make sure the threshold fits snugly. Make sure there’s no gap where the two sash meet when windows are closed. If there is, either adjust the locks or replace them with cam action locks, which pull the window sash together tightly when locked. To improve the energy efficiency of older single-pane windows, install window insulation kits on the inside of the window, and use a hair dryer to shrink the plastic film until it’s tight.
2. Use the Sun’s Heat
The sun provides heat even on the coldest, winter days. To take advantage of the sun’s heat, open the curtains and blinds on sunny windows during the day to let solar heat into your home. At night close all curtains and blinds on windows to keep the heat from escaping.
3. Insulate Attic Stairs
Pull down attic stairs and access covers are an often overlooked source of heat loss in your home. Start by applying self-adhesive foam weatherstripping around the stair opening or access cover to seal any cracks. Next, install an attic stair cover over the opening or use construction adhesive to attach insulation to the attic side of an access cover to further reduce heat loss.
4. Insulate Electrical Outlets and Switches
You’d be surprised how much cold air can enter your home around electrical outlets and switches on exterior walls, and how simple it is to solve the problem. To seal drafts on outlets and switches, turn the power off to the outlet or switch, unscrew the cover plate, and install a foam outlet or switch gasket (available at home centers) over the opening, Reattach the cover plate, turn the power back on, and you’re good to go!
5. Limit Fireplace Use
Sitting next to a crackling fire on a cold, winter night is one of the simple pleasures of winter; but it can also cause the heat in your home to literally go through the roof. If you have a standard wood burning fireplace, be sure to close the damper after the fire is completely out to help keep the heated air in your home from going up the chimney. For an even better seal, cut a piece of foam insulation to fit snugly in the opening below the damper, or purchase an inflatable plug that fits the opening. Just be sure to remove it and open the damper before lighting a fire!
6. Use Ceiling Fans
Running ceiling fans on low during cold weather helps circulate the warm air throughout the room and prevents heat from rising to the ceiling. This is particularly true of rooms with high ceilings. To prevent chilly drafts, reverse the direction the ceiling fan turns in winter, so it rotates clockwise when looking up at the fan from below. This cause the fan to draw air up in the center of the room and down around the walls.
7. Lower Your Thermostat
One of the best ways to lower your heating bill is to dress warmly and set your thermostat to 68° F or lower during the day. When you go to bed at night, pile on the blankets, and turn the thermostat down to 62° F or lower for even more savings. Replacing an old thermostat with a new programmable model, will allow you to set it to automatically turn the temperature up and down so you don’t forget.
8. Add Attic Insulation
Since heat rises, it’s important to check your attic to make sure you have plenty of insulation. If you live in a warm climate, you need a minimum of 12” of fiberglass, cellulose, or stone wool insulation. Houses in colder climates should have 16” or more of insulation. Adding additional attic insulation is a good DIY project; but be sure to wear an approved dust mask, gloves, goggles, and protective clothing when you do. And be careful not to step through the ceiling!