As the weather outside turns chilly and the nighttime temperatures dip lower and lower, many homeowners are relying on their home’s heating system to keep their home comfortable and cozy. However, if there’s one thing worse than a lump of coal in your stocking, it’s high utility bills. Whether your home uses gas or electricity, you may see your heating costs skyrocket this winter. In this article, we outline some of the best ways to lower your energy costs by making your home more efficient and conserving heat.
Add insulation and reduce heating loss
Your furnace or heat pump works hard to keep your home cozy and comfortable on cold winter nights. However, much of this effort and energy use is actually going to waste: at least 30% of the heat produced by your furnace is lost before it even gets to the living room or bedroom. Heat rises through leaks and pinholes in your ductwork and then up through the attic and roof. As a result, your heating system has to work that much harder to reach, and then maintain, the temperature of your home.
One of the most effective ways to cut your winter heating bills is by making your home more energy-efficient so that less of this heating is wasted. There are a few ways to go about doing this. Attic insulation can help trap heat in your home for a longer period of time, so adding more insulation in your attic is a highly effective first step. You should also add weatherstripping around your doors and windows. Not only does this trap heat energy indoors, but it prevents cold drafts from getting inside.
Finally, talk to an HVAC professional in your area about having your ducts sealed. This can reduce your heat waste by up to 20%, which will add up to significant savings over the course of the winter months.
Use technology to heat your home smarter
You’ve likely seen some holiday sales for programmable (also known as “smart”) thermostats. These devices really can help homeowners conserve energy and save money. The key is setting a schedule on the thermostat that accounts for when you’re regularly home and away. The smart thermostat can then automatically adjust the temperature as needed, keeping the home at a lower temperature while you’re at work, and then slowly and efficiently warming it back up right before you get home.
Most smart thermostats come with an accompanying smartphone app that allows you to control your home’s indoor temperature from anywhere. These apps can also show you your day-by-day energy usage to give you a better idea of how your home is conserving energy. Our recommendation: take advantage of holiday specials to upgrade to a smart thermostat, and be sure to check with your local utility company to see if they offer any special rebates or programs to homeowners who make the switch.
Lower your heating use without compromising on comfort
So far, we’ve reviewed how to make your home’s heating more efficient. However, one of the best ways to conserve energy and save money is by using less heating overall. This doesn’t mean you have to turn your home into a frigid icebox, however. Here are some great ways to stay comfy without reaching for that thermostat dial:
- It may seem paradoxical, but you can often keep the thermostat a few degrees colder at night when everyone’s sleeping. Once asleep under heavy sheets and blankets, most people won’t notice a slight temperature change in the home.
- Dress for the season’s weather by wearing comfortable and cozy sweaters and pants in your home. While you shouldn’t need to wear a parka just to sit on the couch, you can put on your coziest clothes when you get home from work and avoid the temptation of adjusting the thermostat.
- If your home has a fireplace, light a fire in the evenings that people can gather around to stay warm. This not only helps you avoid running the heat but can also add the perfect ambiance to your home for the holidays. Just don’t forget the hot cocoa!
Just because you and your family are home for the holidays doesn’t mean you have to spend hundreds on winter heating bills. By making energy-efficient upgrades to your home and using your heater less, you can save money while having a comfortable holiday season.