January 10th was National Cut Your Energy Cost Day. To celebrate, we have a few tips to keeping your home warm without leaving you broke.
Winter weather can be unpredictable. Every area is prone to weather extremes. Whether you're using your heat constantly or are lucky enough only to need to turn it on occasionally, it's impossible to know when, how often, or for how long you may need to have your heat on. And these unknowns can lead to severe sticker shock when you get your heating bill. You may not be able to control the unpredictability of winter weather throughout the country, but these tips can help you lower the bill by changing the way you manage your thermostat.
Dress for Cold Weather
Dress in layers; slap a pair of slippers on your feet, and add a hat to complete your warm ensemble. Serve warm drinks, not cold cocktails, when entertaining or relaxing.
Buy a programmable thermostat
If your heating or air conditioning is on when you don’t need it, that’s the biggest source of wasted energy in American homes, right there. If you own your home, then installing a programmable thermostat should be straightforward but if you’re renting, then you’ll need to talk to the person who rents to you.
Reduce the Use of Vent Fans
Fans suck out undesirable smells and moisture, but they also suck out a lot of hot air from your home. In the winter, don't run your kitchen or bathroom vent fans unless there is a need. Because winter air is already quite dry, there may be no need to vent a bathroom after every shower. In kitchens, use the vent fan sporadically in the winter, though you should still take care to properly vent when you are cooking with gas-burning appliances.
Use the Sun
Open curtains during the day to allow the sun to warm your home, then close curtains at night to trap in the heat. On the sides of the home where there is good sun exposure, keep trees and shrubs pruned away so the windows can receive full sunlight.
Change Furnace Filters Regularly
A dirty filter makes your furnace/heat pump work harder and leads to super scary numbers on your heating bill. Aim to swap the filters out once a month. A variety of electrostatic filters are now available that also trap allergens or even pathogens such as viruses. These cannot work effectively, though, unless they are changed regularly.
Get a Furnace Tune-Up
Keep your furnace or heat pump running at peak performance by having it tuned up by a professional once a year. It's a small expense that could lead to big savings. Among other things, the furnace technician will check the burners and exhaust vents to make sure they are working at top efficiency. Often, simply cleaning the burners can make a noticeable difference in your energy costs.
Check that your appliances are energy efficient
Many older appliances are so inefficient they might be costing you more in energy bills than it would cost to completely replace them. A little research should show you whether any of your appliances are officially energy hogs, and whether you might be able to save money over the medium term by replacing any of the most egregious offenders.