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Last time we talked about ways to save energy overall in the winter. This go-around, we’re going to focus specifically on heat since HVAC is the big spender when it comes to your monthly utility budget.
1. Like we mentioned last time, turn down your thermostat. Every degree lowered below 70 saves you up to 5% on heating costs. You can also set the temperature to go down (no lower than 55 though) while you’re away for extended periods of time – even to work – to save even more on the bill. Don’t be afraid to wear a sweater and slippers in the house. It’s winter anyway – make yourself feel cozy. This is where a programmable thermostat comes in handy. We have ours set to 67 in the morning (we find it makes it easier to leave the warm cocoon of the bed), 60 upon leaving for work (we have a dog), 65 upon returning for work (make sure to pre-plan for an hr ahead of when you actually get home so it’s warm by the time you get there), and 65 throughout the night until morning again (again pre-plan an hr for when you typically wake up).
3. Dial down your hot water heater. Turn it back to 110 and start there (be aware, though, that some dishwasher require a higher setting – so pull out the manual). If you find yourself needing more hot water at the end of the day (if you have a bigger family with more showers), turn it up 5 degrees. Keep testing until you’ve found a setting that works. The other thing to also dial down is the time you actually spend in the shower. While not everyone can maintain the military standard of a shower in 3mins, try to keep it to the length of 3 songs. Egg timers are a simple tracking method for this. You can do it in the same way you do the water heater. Time your typical shower, then resolved to cut off a minute every new instance.
2. Clean your furnace filters as frequently as required. You’d be surprised how much energy this can draw. Think of it this way: You get in your car in the winter and it’s cold. You blast the heat to make it comfortable. What if you put a fishing net over the outlets (normal/clean filter)? Doesn’t really change the flow. Change the thin film to a cotton ball (dirty filter). Even stretched out it’s affecting your transfer of heat in a major way. You should also take the time at the beginning of the season to get your furnace serviced.
4. Seal leaks. We brought this up last time and it’s getting brought up again for a good reason. As my dad use to say, he “doesn’t care to heat the outdoors” and that’s basically what you’re doing if you are living in a poorly sealed home. The same goes for windows – use pane glazing or thick curtains to shut out the night cold. It might also be time to check your insulation.
5. Winter seems to be the season of cooking. Let the oven continue to do the work for you. When you’re done baking, TURN IT OFF, but also leave the oven door open until it’s lost most of its heat. Obviously you should choose safety over finances, so if you have a little one in the home this may not be ideal. Our first home was the space above a 2car garage and our winter cooking probably provided half the heat needed on those cold winter nights.
6. This seems like a no-brainer, but we’re still going to mention it. Heat only the rooms you USE. You’d be amazed the price savings when you aren’t heating that extra 2000 cubic feet of guest bedroom space. The same principle applies to sleeping arrangements. Unless you’re living somewhere in a gluttonous gas environment (and if you live on Earth, we know that’s not the case), it’s cheaper for you to use an electric blanket at night than to heat the entire space of the bedroom. Or buy a down comforter and live like the nordic do.
7. When the fireplace is on, turn off the heat (or at least turn it down). When the fireplace is off, remember to shut the damper.
What other ideas do you have? We hope you’re feeling warm and toasty tonight and that these tips and tricks help you out through the winter ahead!