During this time of economic uncertainty, turmoil in the stock market, job losses and layoffs, saving money is more critical than ever before! The gloomy, looming financial crisis is not only dampening the otherwise festive and beautiful holiday season but it has the potential to burden already financially strapped consumers with higher home heating bills this winter!
However, there are a few simple steps we can take that can not only help lower home heating costs but also conserve energy. What's even more wonderful is that some of them don't incur any additional cost!
1. According to many energy experts, simply lowering the thermostat 5 to 10 degrees at night and when the house is empty can slash heating costs by at least 10% or more! It may be helpful to consider a programmable thermostat. Lower the thermostat on the hot water heater also. Lowering the thermostat does not mean you have to freeze or place your physical health at risk! Wear warm clothing and use a stadium blanket when reading or watching TV.
2. Use the power of the sun! Open all curtain and blinds during the day to let the sunlight in and close them in late afternoon to conserve warmth.
3. Prevent drafty air from coming indoors by applying caulking to fill interior and exterior gaps around window frames.
4. Check weather stripping around all the exterior doors in your home. Replace damaged, worn-out weather-stripping. Make use of door sweeps and door thresholds to block cold air.
5. Seal and insulate ductwork.
6. Have leaky water faucets repaired.
7. Consult with an expert about having hot water pipes and the hot water heater insulated.
8. Use ventilation fans in the kitchen and bathrooms prudently as they can rapidly draw out warm air.
9. Heat only the rooms that are in use. Close the doors and heating vents of unused rooms.
10. Inspect the home furnace or hire an expert. Replace old and/or dirty air filters if needed.
A few long-range energy solutions that you may want to eventually implement, depending on your financial situation are: improving your home’s insulation with particular attention to the basement, attic, ceilings and exterior walls, installing replacement windows or storm windows and upgrading to Energy Star appliances as they are considered to be more efficient. Energystar.gov is a great guide for anyone who wants to learn about Energy Star appliances. If it is time to change the furnace or hot water heater, consider high-efficiency replacements.