If you’re like most New Englanders, you probably dread winter and the freezing temperatures it brings. You rely on your heating system to get you through it, hoping and praying that it doesn’t break at the worst possible time. The heat feels great on your body, but unfortunately, not on your energy bill or your wallet. Although there is no perfect end-all-be-all solution, there are a few tips and tricks you should be using to keep you warm while saving some green.
- Keep Warm Air In
It’s actually a lot easier said than done. Besides the obvious (doors, windows, vents, etc.), there are tons of small gaps and holes in your home that allow precious heat to escape into the frozen outdoor abyss. Purchase or replace weather-stripping for your doors and windows to significantly reduce the airflow they let in (they let in a lot), and as a result, keep you warm and save you money.
You probably wouldn’t expect your electrical sockets to be a culprit for drafts, but, indeed, they are a big one. There’s not much insulation behind the sockets, so after you take off the cover plate, fill the holes you see with either latex caulk or foam sealant. Once you’re done, put a cheap foam gasket on over the socket, put the cover plate back on, and just like that, you’re saving up to nearly 20% of your energy bill. Repeat for each socket in your house.
Lastly, there’s a good chance that parts of your home are not properly insulated or insulated at all. The recommended amount of insulation to keep the warm air in is about 12 inches, so you should go around and make sure your entire home follows this guideline (even in rooms you don’t even use, like an attic or sunroom.)
- Check the Thermostat
If you’re like most humans, when the weather is cold, you turn your thermostat up, and when it’s hot, you turn it down. But that’s extremely inefficient. The U.S. Department of Energy recommends just the opposite. In the winter months, keep the dial at 68 degrees if you’re home and awake, and when you’re away or asleep, lower it about 7-10 degrees to start to reel in the savings. (For what it’s worth, in the summer, keep your thermostat at 78 degrees when your home for the same effect.) The closer your thermostat is to the outdoor temperature, the more savings you will enjoy.
- Use the Sun
Though it might not feel that way in the winter, a shining sun can still bring in tons of warm energy for your home. To capitalize on its heat, open the shades of your south-facing windows during the daylight hours. When the sun sets, close the shades so that your house retains the heat from the daytime. It may not seem like much, but it’s still an effective method for keeping your house warm and saving money while doing it.