Source: quickanddirtytips.com ~ Author: Amanda Thomas
Image Courtesy of Home Depot
I love my husband, but there are some times I love him more than others. Over the past (almost) decade of being together, I have fallen in love with his passion for energy efficiency. See, Mr. Domestic CEO was a mechanical engineer. For 10 years, he designed heating, ventilating, and air conditioning systems, so he knows a thing or two about how to use the least amount of energy possible in a building.
I admit, his tips and explanations used to go right over my head. Honestly, I didn’t really care about saving money on my energy bills because I was living in small apartments and already had low electric bills. When we moved into our 3 bedroom, two-story house, though, things changed. I started talking with friends who had similar homes, only to find out that they were paying two to three times the amount we were for our heating bills. Why? Because we put into place a few small changes around our house that save us big, year after year.
In today’s episode, I’m going to give you the tips that Mr. Domestic CEO told me, although I’ll spare you the “Put on more clothes” tip. If you are looking for ways to save on your heating bills this winter, then these three tips are for you.
Tip #1: Think Small
The first thing people tend to do when they want to heat their space is turn up the furnace. The problem with this is the furnace likely heats your whole home, and why would you want to heat rooms that you aren’t using? If you aren’t in the space, but you’re heating it, that’s wasted energy. Instead of rushing over to your thermostat to crank up the heat, consider using something smaller than a giant oil burner.
In our home, unless we have company over, or are using multiple rooms at the same time, we keep the furnace turned down, and use space heaters in the rooms where we spend most of our time. If I am working in my home office, I turn the heat up on my feet. After all, I’m probably going to be there for a while, so there’s no use heating my living room, kitchen, dining room, or bedroom just to keep myself warm while I’m working on the computer. Just make sure to turn the heater off when you leave the room, and follow all the safety precautions. Space heaters can cause a fire hazard, but if you use them correctly, they are perfectly safe.
The “think small” principle applies to sleeping, too. When we go to bed, we are likely going to be there for at least 7 hours, so why would we want to heat the office, kitchen, and living room during that time? Instead, we have a heated mattress pad that we turn on about 20 minutes before going to bed. Not only do we get to save electricity by having our bed heated instead of the entire room around us, we also never have to get into a bed with freezing cold sheets.
Tip #2: Maximize the Air
Now, you may be thinking to yourself, “What about when you wake up?” Few things are worse than waking up on a dark, winter morning, and having to get out of a toasty bed into a freezing cold room. How do we make the morning bearable? Simple: programmable thermostats! Our heat automatically turns down at night when we are sleeping in our heated bed, then it kicks back on about an hour before we get up so that we don’t freeze our tootsies off when we get out of bed. We also have the heat set to turn down during the day when we are out of the house. After all, it seems silly to heat the house if no one is home, right? A programmable thermostat can be purchased at any home improvement store, or online. They are fairly inexpensive, and you can make your money back in a month or two if you set it to only heat your home when you are there.
Another tip that can help you maximize the air in the room is a ceiling fan. Ceiling fans can be put on the Reverse setting. Instead of pushing air straight down, it pulls the cool air up, which pushes the warm air back down to where you are. And the higher the ceiling, the bigger the difference this can make. If you really want to know why that is, we should probably call Everyday Einstein to see if he can help explain.
Tip #3: Seal the House
When it comes to those cool breezes you feel around your home in the winter, both Mr. Domestic CEO and Everyday Einstein would be disappointed in me if I didn’t stress that this is from the heat escaping, not the cold air coming in. So, your goal in sealing your home is to do everything you can to keep the hot air inside your home.
Every window or door of your home that isn’t properly sealed is an opportunity for heat to escape. Keep the heat in your home by making sure to seal up all the openings you can. If you can see light around your door in the middle of the day, you have gaps where heat can escape. Self-adhesive weather stripping can be purchased at home improvement stores and applied to door frames to seal those gaps.
If it feels like there is a breeze coming under your doors, door sweeps can be installed at the bottom of the door to keep heat in. If your windows are where you feel a breeze, window insulation film is your solution. It’s like a shrink wrap for your windows. If you want a more expensive, but more fashionable, option, updating your window treatments to cellular shades or heavy drapery will keep the heat from going out the windows, too.
Now that you have a few tips to get you started, it’s time to make preparations for the weather months. With the weather changing fast, the sooner you can make these small adjustments, the sooner you can start saving money on your heating bill.
If you are in the market to buy (or sell) a home in Northern California, Realtors associated with Century 21 M&M look forward to walking you through the process. Rest assured that Century 21 M&M Realtors will do their best to make sure that both Buyers and Sellers are protected during the transaction.