Maintaining manageable energy bills in the winter despite high gas and electricity rates is a matter of reducing your energy usage. Thankfully, this doesn’t mean you have to freeze all winter long. These tips will help you get the most out of the heat your system produces while maintaining a high level of comfort at lower thermostat settings.
Maintain Your Furnace or Boiler
Proper maintenance of your heating system is a surefire way to lower your energy consumption, extend the life of your system and stay comfortable while lowering your energy bills. A Gas Safe registered engineer will clean and inspect your system, including tightening gas and electrical connections and removing dust buildup from your system that can interfere with the optimum exchange of heat. If you use a forced-air system, keep your air filter clean. Check it every month and replace it with a clean filter when the old one is clogged with dust. A clean filter is essential for optimum airflow, preventing dust buildup inside your system and improving your indoor air quality.
Use Your Ceiling Fans to Stay Warmer
Believe it or not, using your ceiling fans in the winter can reduce your energy consumption considerably. A switch at the top of your ceiling fan allows you to reverse the direction of the blades. As warm air rises toward the ceiling, exposing the thermostat to colder temperatures and making your home feel chilly, the ceiling fan will push it back down and distribute it to the corners of your room, making it feel warmer and preventing your heating system from kicking on. Keep your ceiling fans on the lowest setting to get the most benefit.
Don’t Use Your Fireplace or Wood Burning Stove for Heat
A warm, crackling fire may sound inviting, but the reality is that your fireplace and wood burning stove create a vacuum that pulls heat from your rooms and sends it out through the chimney, making your furnace or boiler kick on more frequently to replace the warmth.
Let the Sunshine In
If you have south-facing windows, keep your blinds open during the day to allow the sun’s energy to help heat your rooms. Close them at night to keep the heat in.
Seal Air Leaks
If your home is particularly draughty, you’re paying higher utility bills, regardless of your gas and electricity rates. To detect air leaks in your home, close your exterior doors and windows on a windy day. Light an incense stick and pass it nearby common sites of air leaks, such as around doors and windows, service entrances, baseboards and pipes and vents that lead outdoors. When the smoke from the incense wavers, you have an air leak.Â
Seal air leaks around doors and windows with weather stripping and caulk. Caulk along baseboards. Use expandable caulk to seal air leaks around pipes, vents and service entrances. If you’re losing warm air or gaining cold air from outlets and light switches on exterior walls, install inexpensive foam insulators, widely available at home improvement centres, behind them. Make sure the damper on your chimney is tightly closed when your fireplace isn’t being used.
Install a Programmable Thermostat
Programmable thermostats are proven to lower your utility bills considerably by optimizing your thermostat settings and reducing the amount of energy you use to heat your home. Program it at low settings while you’re at work during the day and sleeping at night. By the time you wake up or arrive home, your house will be toasty warm.
Commit to Lower Thermostat Settings While You’re at Home
For every degree you lower your thermostat, you can save up to 3 percent on your energy bill, depending on your gas and electricity rates. Use these tips to stay comfortable at lower thermostat settings:
Dress warmly. Wear thick socks and layer your clothing to stay warm.
Use a high-efficiency space heater to help heat the room you spend the most time in.
Use blankets to stay warm while you’re watching TV or working in the office.
After cooking, leave your oven door open to allow the excess heat to help warm your kitchen.
Keep obstructions away from your heating registers to optimize the heat coming from them.
Kristen Bailey enjoys writing about topics that help consumers make educated choices to save money and conserve natural resources.
Kristen Bailey the author, has been looking for the cheapest gas deals over at http://www.uswitch.com/gas-electricity/guides/cheapest-gas-and-electricity/ but things that a good deal alone is not enough in these times of rising energy prices.
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