Stay cozy in winter
DIY tips to reduce your winter bills
The Winter's first major snowstorm just dumped over a foot of snow on the Boston area. All this snow surrounding our homes will make our heating systems work harder to keep us warm--which means higher energy costs.
Even more disconcerting, apart from the dent in your wallet, is that experts say close to 30% of the heat produced will escape in a poorly constructed or insulated home. To put things into perspective, think of setting fire to 30% of the cash you spend on your heating bill. The good news is that there are ways to curb these energy losses, whether your home is old or you are in the throes of constructing your dream abode.
Read on to get ideas on how to reduce your heating bill while staying warm.
Do It Yourself approach
Reducing the amount you spend on heating comes down to two things: changing your behavior and insulating your home. Both routes offer varying degrees of difficulty. Below are some simple DIY steps to get you started.
Let in the sunshine
Open up curtains and blinds that face the sun during the day to allow your home to warm up naturally. The warmth can linger a short while provided you close the curtains back up before the sun goes down. This free source of energy can supplement the amount of heating you need to stay toasty.
Use thermostats and timers
Heating your home to temperatures beyond what you need wastes energy. When you are home, determine how low you can reduce your settings and still feel comfortable. Remember, wearing warm clothes while you are indoors makes lower temps endurable!
A programmable thermostat allows you to coordinate your heating needs around your activities to prevent waste. Choose lower settings during your sleeping hours and program higher temperatures to greet you when you wake up. Similarly, turn off the heat when you leave the house and program it to switch on some minutes before you return.
Unplug your electronics
Turn off your electronics completely because standby power consumes electricity. You could save as much as $100 a year for this simple task!
Reduce appliance temperatures
Where possible, do laundry using your machine's cold water settings to save on heating. In the same vein, check that your water heater and refrigerator are set to the recommended temperatures. If not, you end up using up more electricity than necessary.
Take care of maintenance schedules
Make sure to follow the stipulated maintenance schedules for your heating devices as their efficiency decreases with their use. Preferably before winter starts, hire a qualified professional to tune up your system and save on energy costs.
Heating systems are not created equal
Pay close attention to how your heating system produces energy. Using a less efficient system, you would need to spend more to get the same amount of heat produced by a more efficient one.
Old wood-burning fireplaces, in particular, can be highly inefficient because their chimney openings invite the cold winter air into your home. EPA certified models fare much better. Adjust the damper to regulate airflow when you use it and keep the damper closed when not in use. If you prefer not to use the fireplace at all, seal off the chimney completely.
Next week we’ll look at ways to increase the energy efficiency of your home with such upgrades as insulation to prevent heat loss. Best of all, you could save 75% or more on these improvements thanks to our partnership with the sponsors of Mass Save®. Learn more on a no-cost virtual home energy assessment.