Chances are good this winter won’t be mild
THE ISSUE: An early bout of snow and low temps could mean a long, hard winter.
OUR VIEW: The sooner you prepare your home for winter, the more money you’ll save.
In these parts, measurable snowfall before Christmas isn’t a regular thing. It’s even more rare to not only have snow fall, but a snow day, before Thanksgiving. Early indications seem to show this winter could be harsh.
For many people, the worst part of any winter is the cost of home heating. While turning down the thermostat and wearing another layer of clothing are common energy-saving ideas, there are other ways to prepare for a long, hard winter.
Air circulation is important. Ceiling fans should be set to turn clockwise. This forces the warm air that naturally rises to the ceiling back down into the room. All vents should be clear of furniture, clutter and other obstructions to allow for proper air flow. This includes dust. Clean your vents and ceiling fans so air can move more efficiently. Of course, it’s important to make sure to replace your furnace’s filter. The filter is particularly important for people with allergies and other respiratory problems.
Seal the leaks. On a day when the indoor/outdoor temperature differential is at least 30 degrees, feel around places where that expensive heat could escape. It’s estimated heating costs can be reduced 10-20 percent, simply by sealing the leaks. Check around windows, doors and places where wires and cables enter the house. Check electrical outlets and around pipes and vents. Sealing these leaky spots is inexpensive and well worth the effort.
Did you know that moist air retains heat better than dry air? This is why it’s beneficial to use a humidifier. Humidifiers help reduce static and dry skin. They can also make it easier to breath.
Do you have a room that’s always either too hot or too cold? Try an air vent booster. It’s a fan that installs over the vent and draws more air into the room.
Use the sun as much as possible. Resist the urge to close the heavy curtains and let the sun shine in whenever possible. Open the curtains of your south-facing windows during the day, then close them when the sun goes down to keep that free heat inside.
With the holidays around the corner, consider investing in LED Christmas lights. They use 75 percent less energy and last much longer than traditional lights. This can add up to big savings for avid decorators.
Limit the use of exhaust fans. While it’s handy to use an exhaust fan to defog the bathroom mirror after a shower or to draw steam away while cooking, they remove warm air from a room. Resist the urge to turn them on and only use them for as long as necessary. Not only do exhaust fans remove warm air from a room, they replace it with cold air that has to be heated – a double whammy.
A programmable thermostat will help you save if you set it to a lower temperature at night and when you’re not at home. Every degree lowered during a 24-hour period will reduce heating costs by 3 percent. Keeping the thermostat set to 68 degrees during the day and 55 degrees at night will save about 13 percent.
Check your hot water heater. While most are usually set at 140 degrees, many people are just fine setting it to 120 degrees. If your hot water heater is warm to the touch, it may benefit from an insulating cover. Check your owner’s manual to see if covers are made to fit yours.
Look into a low-flow shower head. Reducing the amount of hot water use not only saves on the water bill, it cuts down on the energy it takes to heat it.
The amount you can save by making small changes adds up, and the sooner those changes are made, the more you’ll save.