As we go into fall and anticipate the arrival of winter, many people start to think about the affordability of their heating costs in the colder months ahead. Some homeowners believe that there isn’t much that they can do to alter their heating bills, but this is incorrect. By making some smaller and larger changes, it is possible to lower your winter heating bills significantly. Let’s take a look at some tried and tested methods to tame your heating bills during the colder months.
6 Smaller Changes
A smaller change is something that’s easy actionable, it doesn’t take too much time, and there isn’t a huge outlay to make a significant change now. There are six smaller changes that you can make; even adopting one of these tips will make a difference, and if you implement them, all you will notice a reduction in your heating bills.
- Turn Down the Thermostat
The thermostat is the central brain of your entire HVAC system, and any changes made here will probably have the most direct effect on your heating bills. When the weather turns colder, many people automatically reach for the thermostat and crank the internal temperature to compensate. But, if you can control this impulse and turn your thermostat down by even a single degree, it will have a dramatic effect on your energy bills. The Department of Energy has estimated that an average home could save as much as 10% on heating bills if the thermostat was turned down by 7-10º from the typical setting for only 8 hours of the day.
- Use an Electric Blanket
Now, this 8 hour period of lower temperatures doesn’t have to take place when the family is awake. Setting the thermostat lower during the sleeping hours is perfectly reasonable, and it may even be beneficial in other ways. Research has shown that we get better sleep when the temperature in our bedrooms is on the cool side. If you do feel cold in bed, you can always add an extra blanket to use an energy efficient electric blanket to get the bed nice and toasty before you retire for the night. Simply turn the electric blanket on for 15 minutes before you go to bed and then turn it off when you get in for a warm period as you fall into a restful sleep.
- Use the Power of the Sun
Even in the depths of winter, the sun can generate a great deal of heat in your home. During the summer months, we often draw our blinds and curtains to keep the heat of the sun out. In winter, we need to let that natural warm sunlight flood into your rooms during the day. The heat will be absorbed by our carpets, rugs, and soft furnishings, making our rooms feel warmer after the sun has set. This is an excellent way to get some passive free heating for your home.
- Find and Seal Drafts
A draft will allow the treated air in your home to escape making the home feel colder and lowering the energy efficiency. This is a waste of money, so finding drafts and sealing them should be a priority. A candle flame or handheld draft detector can help you to locate and drafts which you can then seal with foam insulation or by replacing weather strips.
- Use a Space Heater
If you only need direct heat in a single room that you’re using, consider purchasing and using a space heater. This will allow you to run a lower temperature for the rest of the home and enjoy greater warmth where you are located. Maintaining a general low ambient temperature is still important, but you can turn down the heat by 7-10º without noticing any difference in the immediate area.
- Tune Up Your Furnace
It’s a great idea to get your furnace tuned up annually before the start of the heating season. This will include cleaning and adjustments that can have a real impact on the efficiency of your furnace, and this will lower your energy bills. As an added bonus, the HVAC technician may find minor issues that could develop into larger problems later on. A well maintained system is less likely to break down when you need it most, and it will typically last longer.
3 Larger Changes
A larger change will cost more money, or it could take longer to implement than the six smaller changes detailed above. In order to adopt these three changes, you may need to act earlier and plan your approach carefully. The last thing that you need when it’s cold outside is to try and make major changes unless it’s absolutely necessary.
- A Home Energy Audit
A home energy audit is an inspection of many aspects of your home to improve the energy efficiency. This typically takes most of the day, and it must be carried out by a trained inspector. A number of measurements are taken, and the inspector will then produce a report with recommendations on areas where you can improve. This is a fantastic way to begin your journey to improve the energy efficiency in your home.
- Replace the Attic Insulation
One of the best defenses against heat loss in your home is the insulation in your attic. But, over time, this thick layer of insulation can become less effective, it will break down and lose the essential mass and volume needed to keep the heat in. If you can push a tape measure into the insulation to the attic floor and you have less than 12” of insulation, it’s time for a replacement.
- A Furnace Upgrade
If your furnace is more than ten years old and you’re starting to experience frequent repairs, it’s probably time for a replacement. Upgrading to a newer and more energy efficient furnace is a great way to lower your home heating bills. Talk to your local certified HVAC provider and ask them about the available options and how much you can save on your home heating bills this winter.