Knock down your power bill this winter
The long nights and cold weather of winter can be like a one-two punch on your energy bill! Have you been surprised to see how December’s cold snap translated for your bottom line?
Today we’ll discuss ways to stay warm and comfortable and save money on your energy bill.
Heating and Cooling
In most places, the higher energy bills come with cold, dark winters. Lights are on longer and the cost to heat the house is likely consuming the largest piece of a seasonal energy pie.
The good news is that making some changes like LED lights and how you heat your house can put your energy bill on a diet.
But for starters, and regardless of your mode of heating, don’t forget to wear layers of clothes in or out of the house.
By layering, you create a more comfortable micro-climate next to your skin. It’s not just the extra material itself, but also the insulating effect of trapped air between layers. (Layering can also work to keep you cooler in the summer if you use light, baggy layers.) Layering helps control both sweating and evaporation, which determines comfort for each individual. Heating or cooling the whole house then becomes a choice.
During the winter, when the temperatures are low, consider temporarily closing off a room or even a floor of your house to keep the heat in the areas that you are living in.
Be proactive by checking for drafts by using a can-of-smoke around windows, doors, light switches, in closets, under the sink cabinets and fireplaces. Found in home improvement stores, this product will let you see the infiltration source to plug.
New windows might be ideal, but it takes years to recoup your expenditure in saved heating costs. So, consider plastic film kits, re-caulking and weather stripping windows that need it. Consider stopping-in cut-to-fit used glass as storm windows if you DIY. They can make quite the difference.
Closing blinds or heavy curtains – especially at night – helps retain the heat inside. Make it a habit to close them as soon as the sun goes down for the day, if possible. (But capture the heat of the sun during the day by having them wide open!)
When it comes to open-faced fireplaces, you’d be surprised how many people leave their draft open! If you’re not using your fireplace, for heaven’s sake, close the draft door. Another candidate for the can-of-smoke test is the attic hatch. Make sure it is sealed and latched.
Lastly, even though your house’s foundation vents are there for a reason – to keep your house breathing in fresh air and out removing moisture – when the temperature remains below freezing, we suggest temporarily closing them. Just make sure to write yourself a note to open them up again when the weather stays above 35-40 degrees, otherwise you could begin to have moisture issues under and inside your home.
Heat pumps are our favorite!
Last week our column featured our favorite type of heater around here – heat pumps. They are a top energy-saving choice in our climate and provide AC, too. If your current heating system is electric strip-heat, do consider a ductless heat pump. Give us a call if you have questions on this comfortable, affordable option.
Consider a new thermostat
Learn how to properly use your thermostat to save money. A slow steady increase and decrease in temperatures is more effective and cheaper than severe spikes. If you don’t have one, consider purchasing a programmable thermostat. If you do have one, make sure you are using it to its greatest advantage.
If you are gone for a day or two and freezing pipes aren’t a concern, remember to put your thermostat on “vacation,” so you aren’t keeping an empty house toasty warm.
Insulation is worthwhile!
Proper weatherization and insulation are key to increasing your comfort and decreasing the cost of heating your house. Start with insulating your attic. It will have the most impact on your comfort and your energy bill.