Tired of spending a small fortune to heat your home during the long New England winters? Below are 20 things that you can do yourself to save money and heat your home more efficiently this winter.
1) Passive solar heating. Utilize the low winter positioning of the sun to warm your home by opening curtains on south and west facing windows during the day, and removing solar shade screens until warmer weather returns
2) Don't forget pet doors. Drafts from a pet door can't be avoided completely but can be protected against with weather-stripping or even a heavy curtain on either side of the door. If your pet door is within a removable pane for sliding glass doors, be sure to weather-strip around it as well.
3) Perform regular maintenance on your home heating system(s). Efficiency is lost with poorly maintained units. Get regular service done and keep exhaust filters clean.
4) Avoid using exhaust fans. Running a bathroom or kitchen exhaust fan for one hour can deplete your home of its warm air. Minimize their use by not using them or turning them off as soon as possible.
5) "Reuse" oven heat. When you've finished in the oven, leave the door open to warm the kitchen further.
6) Skip the gas fireplace. A gas fireplace will use more energy to heat a room than central home heating.
7) Utilize the wood fireplace.
Wood-burning fireplaces or wood-burning stoves give off more heat than a gas fireplace and can burn scrap wood, fallen trees or branches or wood pellets, which are made from sawdust and are one of the most cost-effective forms of home heating.
8) Reverse your ceiling fans. Most, if not all, ceiling fans have a reverse setting for winter. By reversing your fan blades to rotate clockwise you draw down the risen heat from the ceiling and prevent it from dissipating through the roof or walls.
9) Keep the thermostat low. Challenge yourself to set the temperature one or two degrees lower each year. Keeping it at 55 degrees at night and 60o during the day is a common energy-efficient setting. Beware not to turn it off completely or set it too low, as this can burst pipes or cause hypothermia.
10) Keep the temps steady. Turning the heat off while you leave or more than 5-8 degrees lower at night than during the day can cause your unit to work harder when trying to warm the place up again. Pick a nice steady range instead.
11) Use a programmable thermostat. Using a programmable thermostat to turn the temp lower while you sleep or work can decrease your energy consumption up to 25% without your needing to remember.
12) Consider a space heater. In some, not all, cases a space heater may be more efficient to heat a small room than running a central home heating system.
13) Hang curtains over windows. Heavy curtains or blankets hung over windows will add an exterior barrier to the cold, especially if you don't have double-paned windows.
14) Hang curtains around your bed. Hanging heavy curtains or blankets around the bed (from the ceiling if you don't have a four-poster bed) will help insulate you during the night by trapping body heat.
15) Place rugs in high-traffic areas. Placing rugs on tile, linoleum, concrete or hardwood flooring will assist in insulation efforts.
16) How to find drafts: On a windy day, use a stick of incense, a small candle or tea light and slowly "trace" around all windowsills, door jams, vents etc. looking for the flame to flicker or the smoke or hair to be blown away.
17) Seal all drafts. Silicone caulking or foam sealant works for drafts in non-movable sources, such as window frames, and draft gaskets work well for electrical outlets and switches. For movable sources, like windows or doors, use weather-stripping. Using a door draft stopper (like a rolled up towel) and heavy currents can also stop drafts.
18) Wood- and Pellet-Burning Heaters.
Clean the flue vent regularly and clean the inside of the appliance with a wire brush periodically to ensure that your home is heated efficiently.
19) Keep your fireplace damper closed unless a fire is burning.
Keeping the damper open is like keeping a window wide open during the winter; it allows warm air to go right up the chimney.
20) Weather-strip doors.
A door covers a giant hole in the exterior wall of your house. The problem is, you open it periodically. While it's impractical to stay inside all winter, you can easily and affordably improve the door's seal.