Sunday, January 26, 2014

Keep the Heating Bill Down

I repeat this article because it is COLD today in Philadelphia. These are a few simple steps to conserve heat and energy. I have a small house. If you have a large house, your savings could be substantial.

  1. On a chilly day, walk around your home and check doors and windows for drafts. The easiest way to do this is to run a damp hand slowly around the openings and frame, hovering two or three inches away. When you feel cold air hitting your hand, you've found a draft! Apply weatherstripping to both sides of the opening, or caulk around the frame. Both steps might be necessary to stop all drafts.
  2. Reconsider your window coverings. Up to 50% of your home's heat can go right out the window… literally! Of course, triple-pane storm windows do a better job of keeping heat indoors, but remember that all windows transfer heat. You can save energy by installing shades or shutters to lock that chill outside.
  3. Your computer and peripherals consume a lot of energy, so turn them off when not in use. Even when turned off, like most appliances, computers and peripherals still sip away at your power. To turn them entirely off, connect the devices to a power strip so that after shut down, you can flip a switch to ensure they are truly off.
  4. Upgrade your light bulbs. If you're still using standard incandescents, you're paying too much to the electric company. Start with the lights you use the most. Try a few different types to see what type works best for you. LEDs offer the most energy savings, but also cost the most. CFLs are fairly economical, but might not do well in dimmer fixtures and can take a few minutes to warm up. Halogens are an advanced type of incandescent that emit pretty white light and turn on immediately, but they are the least energy efficient of three. See the pros and cons.
  5. Give your furnace a bit of TLC. Start by replacing the filters and replace them every four to six weeks during the winter. If you have exposed ducts, wrapping them in insulation will help, too. If it's been a few years since a service call, you might want to schedule an inspection to make sure your furnace is operating at peak efficiency.
  6. Close off rarely used rooms. Close off any heater vents in the room and use a draft-blocker or even weatherstripping to seal out drafts.
  7. Treat everybody in the house to new, cozy "evening" attire. A fresh set of warm slippers, cozy bathrobes and warm pajamas will help you and your family stay warm and toasty without adding a dime to your energy bill. With everyone warmed by their own body heat, you may even be able to drop the thermostat a degree or few!
  8. Use your ceiling fan. In the chilly months of winter, a ceiling fan set to draw air up will help circulate heat that gathers on your ceiling. For most fans, you'll find the direction control on the base, and clockwise is usually the correct direction to draw air up from the floor.
  9. Use a portable heater. You could set your furnace to a lower temperature to prevent your home from feeling like an icebox, and use portable heaters to make up the difference in whatever room you're currently using. Try to find a heater with enough power to warm the largest room in your home.
  10. Let the sunshine in. Even though it might not feel like it through the chilly air, the sun's rays beaming through your windows will help warm your home for free. Plus, it'll help to keep the winter blues away and brighten your home! Once the sun goes away, cover your windows with energy-efficient shades, drapes or shutters to retain the heat.

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