Growing up, my mother's default reply to "It's cold... can we turn the heat up?" was to put a sweater on. While I appreciate this fossil fuel frugality (I'm wearing a down vest inside my apartment as I write this), there are some additional practical things you can do to stay warm and efficient this winter. And save a few dollars while you're at it!
Fun fact: Did you know that up to 40% of a home’s heat loss is due to air leakage?
Here are some more tips:
1. Use a programmable thermostat and set it at a lower thermostat setting. You will save up to 3% on your heating bill per degree lowered over a 24 hour period (or about 1% per 8 hours). Program your heater to come on right before you wake up, cool down when you leave for work, warm-up when you return from work and go down again right before you go to bed.
Pro Tip: Studies show we sleep better in cooler temperatures.
2. Seal your chimney flue when not in use. Leaving your chimney flue open when not in use is akin to a window left several inches open.
Pro Tip: Home Depot or your local hardware store can point you in the right direction for materials.
3. Use fans to circulate air. Set your fan on low to circulate air downward from the ceiling. This will force the warmer air that rises and gets trapped at the ceiling downward, leaving your house feeling warmer.
Pro Tip: Circulate the air upward during summer months
4. Keep vents and radiators clear. Ensure your vents/radiators are not blocked by rugs or furniture. This allows the air to circulate freely to get the full benefit of the warm air and puts less strain on the furnace.
Pro Tip: Airflow can often be 'tuned' by slightly closing or opening the vents to force more air out of the other vents if one room is warmer than another and on a central system.
5. Clean vents, radiators, change air filters, etc. Dust is an allergen. Clean the built-up dust from your radiators and baseboard heat vents often, allowing the air to flow freely and evenly into your rooms.
Pro Tip: Ionic fans help pull dust particles from the air
6. Approximately 10-25% of your house’s heat loss can be attributed to windows. Open curtains and shades on south-facing windows during daylight hours to allow the sun’s heat to enter your house and warm it. Keep curtains and blinds closed at night and when the sun is not shining on them to insulate your house and keep the heat inside.
Pro Tip: Many states offer some type of credit for upgrading windows to more energy efficient units. eg. Mass Save
7. Shut interior doors. If the room is not used, why heat it? Shut the doors and close the vent when you are not in the room.
8. Seal the leaks in your house. Your house leaks hot air! But if you seal most of these leaks, you can save between 10-20% on your heating bill this winter. Leaks are often found around doors, windows, near the attic, where wires and cables enter your house, and around electrical outlets. Seal gaps around any pipes, wires, vents or other openings with caulk or weather stripping.
9. Add insulation to your house. Insulation helps keep the hot air in and the cold air out. This can not only save you money, but it can also be a tax-deductible home improvement which will give you an even better return for your investment! Basement insulation is often overlooked and will help keep your house warmer during winter months.
10. Using a humidifier can reduce your heating costs because moist air retains heat better than dry air. The other benefits to using a humidifier include reducing static electricity and dry skin, and improve breathing. A dry room also allows germs to spread more easily.
11. Air Vent Booster. An air-vent booster is a fan you install over your vent that works by drawing additional air into a room that is always too hot or cold.
12. Curtains with a very heavy, tightly woven or solid lining and inter-lining can help insulate.