As you crank up the heat and close the windows, your thoughts turn to higher heating bills. Is this inevitable in the winter, or can you take measures to make the home more efficient? While your gas bill may increase in the winter, you can help limit that increase and make your home cozy and efficient.
The biggest problem homes have in the winter is drafts. Spaces around windows, under doors and even in your chimney that allow heated air to escape. Eliminating as many of these as possible will help your home become more efficient.
For example, if you have a fireplace and you don’t close the damper, 8 percent of your heated air is leaving from the chimney. Similarly noticeable drafts around windows and doors quickly suck hot air from the home. Seal up the home’s envelope to prevent this loss.
Change Your Light Bulbs
In the winter as the days get shorter, we rely on electric lights more than in the summer. If you have not changed over to CFL or LED bulbs in your home, do so this winter. Not only do they last longer but CFLs use 75 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs.
Clean Your Ducts
When ducts are filled with dust and grime, you not only have dirty air to breathe in your home, but your furnace has to work harder to get the air throughout your home. Have your ducts professionally cleaned to improve the efficiency of your furnace. While you are at it, change the furnace filter to eliminate airflow problems. It’s best to change furnace filters around once a month during the heating season.
Switch Your Fans
Don’t shut the ceiling fans off in the winter. Cleaning fans help move air around the room and can increase comfort in the winter. The trick is to reverse the direction of the fan using the switch on the fan itself. A clockwise direction helps move the hot air that is rising to the top of the room back down into your living space, and this can reduce heating costs by as much as 10 percent.
High heating bills do not have to be a “staple” this winter. With a little bit of effort on your part, you can lower those bills and make your home more efficient.