When cold weather strikes, maintaining a comfortable temperature in your home is as simple as turning up the heat. But since heat already accounts for about a third of the home's energy expenses, hefty utility bills aren't exactly welcome during the holiday season. Saving energy on your energy bill means finding ways to stay warm without relying solely on the furnace.
Your home energy bills will probably increase in winter, especially if you pay for heat you don't actively use by failing to adjust your thermostat when you're out of the house. Programmable thermostats allow you to save money by tailoring your thermostat settings to your needs and schedule. You can program the temperature for days, weeks, or months ahead of time. Key recommendations include programming lower temperatures during work hours and night time to use less energy and save money.
If you spend most of your time in one room, you can rely less on your furnace and still feel comfortable by using a space heater for that favorite room. Space heaters are relatively inexpensive and are available in natural gas, electric, or propane varieties. Before choosing a space heater, however, be sure to consult the Environmental Protection Agency's Introduction to Indoor Air Quality. And if you do choose to use a space heater, always turn it off when you leave a room, go to sleep, and leave the house – safety is important!
Cold air seeps into the home through the windows every day. Aside from closing them, try these 3 key steps to better insulate this area of your home.
Your home's windows aren't the only place where cold air can enter. Inspect the entire home and apply towels or blankets to close off doorjambs – or simply invest in some new weather-stripping for any doors that open to the outside. Close the flue on the chimney and close doors to any unoccupied rooms. This will keep cold air in those rooms so it doesn't travel around the house.
The warmer your family dresses, the less they will have to rely on your furnace to keep comfortable. Dress in layers during the winter, and pay special attention to areas where warm air escapes the body, such as the feet and head. Use additional layers in the morning or at night to stay warm when it's coldest.
Your basement can really eat up a lot of energy, simply because the heat pumped into them naturally wants to rise and escape. For this reason alone, it's vital that the walls and windows are properly insulated, even in unfinished basements. Rolls of fiberglass insulation are the most efficient solution. Read our article on insulating your basement to learn more.