Keeping Cozy for Less

hot-cocoaWe’re almost through December and it’s the time of year when our heating bills make us cringe! Every time your door opens, a little bit of heat escapes your home. With some diligence and a few preventative measures, you can keep your home warm and not break the bank. In fact, you can even increase your heating system efficiency.

Proper insulation is essential to keeping warm and it’s at the top of our tip list. This home improvement may be a bit costly, but it will be worth the cost when you see the reduction of your next heating bill! Insulate your home, this can be done in two different ways:
you can have insulation blown into your walls by a professional or have insulation sheets placed in your, attic, roof, and floor to keep heat in your home. Other items such as curtains at your windows and rugs or carpet can also act as insulation.

Plug the leaks, finding and sealing leaks around the home is a great way to keep things warmer. Install draft blockers at the base of doorways and seal windows with rubber strips or caulk. Another easy window solution is a ready-to-use plastic window insulation kit bought at the hardware store. The fireplace damper is another leak source, keep it closed when you are not using it. Even light switches and outlets may let cold air into your home. Seal kits for can also be purchased for just a few dollars at the local hardware store.

Reducing the temperature on your thermostat by a few degrees can help you save 10-20% on your heating bill. A programmable thermostat is a great, fairly inexpensive solution. You can pre-program lower temperatures for the times when no one is home or when everyone will be snuggled in their beds. Here are some suggested times and temperatures to help you reduce your heat costs:

6am to 9am = 68 degrees
9am to 5:30pm = 60 degrees
5:30pm to 11pm = 68 degrees
11pm to 6am = 60 degrees

As much as you might enjoy a very warm shower this time of year, another great idea is to reduce the temperature setting on your hot water heater. Most are factory set to 140 degrees; you could reduce it to 120 degrees and not feel any difference in your shower. Taking a shower versus a bath will also use about 15 gallons less of that warm water!

Routine maintenance can also be an important factor in your heating efficiency. All filters should be cleaned/replaced at least monthly during the winter season and a professional system check-up before winter begins is highly recommended.

Other small changes that can make a notable difference:
• Open curtains during the day to let sunlight in and close them at night to prevent heat loss
• Switch ceiling fans to a clockwise direction to push warm air down (keep on lowest speed)
• Add a few extra layers to yourself and family with warm sweaters, socks and slippers
• Move furniture away from heat vents, registers, and radiators to keep air flowing.

For more guidance on saving energy you can visit the U.S. Department of Energy’s website for tons of easy, practical ideas!

Grab a blanket, a book, and your favorite hot beverage.
Your home will be comfy, cozy, and not break your budget!!

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