The sound of the furnace kicking in on a cold winter day is comforting, but can also cause a bit of stress as consumers become more and more aware this also means the energy bill is climbing as the temperatures are falling.
Here are some tips that will help you cut your energy costs this winter, which is good for the planet and your budget. Most people know about checking for leaks around windows and doors and putting plastic over leaky panes, but there are a few more things you can do.
Save money on your electric bill by replacing your standard light bulbs with new energy efficient LED bulbs. If you are not fond of the ‘white’ light, you can purchase a couple of rose and amber tinted shades to warm the glow.
Try to bake several items in your oven together so you’ll only have to run the oven once for two to three meals. For instance bake a roast, potatoes/carrots and maybe a whole chicken and a squash together.
Use motion sensors on lights in places where you usually only spend a few minutes. For instance, if your freezer is in the basement, it’ll only take you seconds to run down and pluck something out. A motion sensor would turn the basement light on as you pass the top of the stairs, so the light is on by the you get there; it only stays on a few minutes. These are also great for powder rooms, where the kids are likely to run in and out in a few minutes but leave the light on. Motion sensor lights are also excellent for closets.
Turn off or unplug your computer, printer and other electronics at night or on days you don’t use them. They are on ‘standby’ so are on even when you’re not using them. Add child-proof plugs to unused electrical outlets as they keep the cold air from entering through the open holes.
Encourage your family to do their homework or other tasks in the kitchen or living room. This way you won’t have as many lights and other electrical items running in a number of rooms.
This may sound a little silly, but wear a knit hat around the house or to bed. A knit wool cap works great. Although it has been proven that people don’t lose most of the heat from the body through the head, a wool cap will keep you much warmer than a bare head. This will allow you to turn your thermostat down a couple of degrees and will save a significant amount of fuel over the winter. Wearing several layers of clothing, such as an undershirt, a long-sleeve T-shirt and a wool or wool blend shirt or blouse will keep you much warmer and allow you to remove a layer should you become warm while performing more active chores like vacuuming or exercising. A vest is also helpful as it keeps your chest and back warm but gives you freer movement than long sleeves. Invest in a pair of fingerless gloves or buy a cheap pair and cut off the ends of the fingers. It sounds odd, but they really help keep you warm and the open finger ends give you all the dexterity you need. The gloves also help arthritis sufferers keep their hands warmer and this means less pain and stiffness.
Close off rooms that are not being used. Your spare bedroom or sewing room (or junk room, such as ours) need not be heated. Turn off the heat vents in these rooms and close the curtains and the door.
Fans and insulation
Minimize the use of vent fans. The fan in the bathroom will pull out the steam from your bath or shower, but will also pull out all that warm moist air. On the other hand, a ceiling fan set to blow the air downward will keep the wam air near the lower half of the room – where the people and pets are. The same goes for the vent fan over the stove. All that heat from a boiling pot of soup or pasta will also help keep your home warm and the furnace will run a little less often. The air in homes becomes dry at times and that little bit of added moisture from your shower or bath will keep you (and your houseplants) more comfy.
Purchase insulated drapes for rooms with large windows, especially for windows facing north, where little or no sunlight shines through. Close the draperies at night, or during the day and night in rooms that are not used or are on the north side of your home, which the coldest location.
Sip green or herbal tea and wrap your fingers around the warm mug. This will do wonders for your winter immune system and help warm you up on a cold morning. Snuggle – cuddle with your loved one or your pets. A pile of cats or a couple of pups really help keep you warm at night and they’ll love you for it!
You can save big money by taking small steps to winterize your home.