As soon as winter starts coming around, homeowners start looking for ways to heat their homes for less. It’s not a hopeless endeavor. There are some simple steps you can follow to take a bite out of your heating bill and still avoid facing a big chill in January.
Simple Solar Heat
If you have south-facing windows, pull back the curtains during the day and let in the sun. Letting sunshine into your home on those days winter days when it’s not overcast can make some rooms downright toasty in January.
Fight the Draft
Windows, however, also are sources of drafts, letting in cold air and making your furnace work overtime. Your best option is to use a heavy-duty, clear plastic sheet taped to the inside of a window or attached to a frame that fits tightly inside the window well. You can also add window treatments and coverings that can reduce drafts.
You can find and seal leaks in your home to further reduce drafts. Add caulk or weather-stripping to eliminate gaps around leaky doors and windows, and outdoor water faucets. Also use weather stripping behind electrical outlets and switch plates, baseboards, attic hatches, dryer vents, cable TV and phone lines, a wall- or window-mounted air conditioners.
Lower Your Thermostat
The natural inclination is to turn up the heat when it gets cold outside, but you don’t have to turn up the heat so high. If the outdoor temperature is in the teens, 68 degrees in your living room can feel pretty cozy.
If you can keep the thermostat at 68 degrees during the day and just put on a sweater, that can be a significant savings on your heat bill. Turn the thermostat down even farther at night and use a warm blanket or comforter to stay warm. Setting the thermostat back 10 to 15 degrees cooler for eight hours a night can save approximately 10 percent a year on heating bills. A programmable thermostat will make those adjustments, and reductions in heating costs, automatic.
Keep Your Furnace Running Efficiently
You have had your scheduled service for your furnace taken care of already, right? Look, it’s not a big deal to get it done. Call Engelsma to learn more about any regular service required for your furnace model.
At the very least, you should replace your furnace filter. The U.S. Department of Energy recommends replacing your furnace filter once a month, more if needed in your home. A clogged filter makes your furnace harder and still blocks much of the heat from reaching your room interiors.
If you have a fireplace, keep the damper closed except when you have a fire burning. You can also reduce heat loss when using the fireplace by opening dampers in the bottom of the firebox, if you have them, or open the nearest window slightly, just an inch, and close doors leading into the room.
For more extensive measures, contact your utility company for a home energy audit and analyzer. Both DTE Energy and Consumers Energy can get you started on home energy analyzers by going to their websites, www.dteenergy.com and www.consumersenergy.com.