Approximately 1/3 of our nation’s energy consumption comes from the residential sector and about 70% of this usage is from homes that are more than 30 years old.
Whether you are heating one of these older homes or a home built more recently; saving money AND energy is important to all of us. Here are some strategies you can employ to save on winter heating costs, help the environment, and stay warm!
- Power of Knowledge – An energy audit of your home is a great place to start. Some utility companies will perform them for free! This will show you exactly where most of the warm air is escaping and cold air is entering. They can also provide detailed plans on ways to warm up your home. A DIY method is to hold a stick of incense near windows, doors, and any other place there might be a gap; then watch for the smoke to blow inwards. Leaks can be fixed by using caulk, insulation, or by replacing worn weather-stripping.
- Programmable Thermostat – If your home in not equipped with one, this is a great investment. Different heating schedules for different days of the week can be easily created. You can make sure your home is warm when occupied and saves you money when it’s empty. Reduced heating costs can also be accomplished by keeping the temperature at a consistent level, avoiding spikes up or down.
- Insulation – Lack of proper insulation may be more of an issue in older homes, but there are ways to remedy it with relative ease. Trained installers can inject a nonflammable foam resin into existing walls. The foam is filled with tiny air bubbles that increase its heating and cooling properties. Older homes were built to “breathe”; make sure the professional you hire knows how to determine the correct amount of insulation for your particular home.
- Room Isolation – Don’t waste heat on empty spaces; shut the door of any room that is not being used. Smaller rooms and bedrooms can often be heated by an electric space heater (at a much lower cost) instead of using your home’s central heating system. Don’t heat the entire house at night when all you really need is a warm bedroom. (Use extra care and follow all manufacturers’ instructions for space heaters)
- Fireplace/Indoor stove – When properly used and maintained, they can be efficient sources of heat for multiple rooms and/or your entire home. Some indoor stoves can generate more heat than common home furnaces.
- Dress warmly – Wool socks, warm sweaters, slippers, and blankets can all help keep you warm, while allowing you to reduce your home’s indoor temperature. This can also apply to your windows. “Dressing” them with heavier drapes during this time of year can help retain heat in your home when they are closed at night.
There are many easy, economical ways to improve your home’s heat efficiency, try a few of these to see what a difference they can make! Keep your home warm and comfy for less!