As the mercury starts to drop and Old Man Winter pokes out his head, we all start to remember those big, expensive heating bills from last year. We’re overcome with dread and that knot in our stomach tightens. It doesn’t have to be that way.
We can ease the heavy blow to our wallets by taking a few simple actions:
Use the free heat of the sun. Open the drapes during the day and let the sun shine in. Then close them again at sundown to help trap the heat inside.
Make sure that all your vents, baseboards, or radiators are not blocked. Move furniture so that air can freely move and be distributed into the room. In the case of ducts, contrary to popular belief DON’T close unused rooms, because it can cause more harm than good; your duct system was designed as a whole, and blocking one part of it can disrupt the balance. For baseboards or radiators, make sure they’re clean, and carefully vacuum them if they are dusty or dirty.
Change your air filter, and consider upgrading to a higher efficiency one to trap more dust and dirt before it contaminates the heating equipment. Pay attention to how the filter mounts, and ensure it’s properly covered. Despite the convenience, an open filter slot is an invitation to problems!
Caulk gaps & cracks, replace worn weather-stripping, and ensure all windows are securely latched. Reducing the amount of air leakage in/out of your home will translate directly into cash in your pocket.
Keep warm air from escaping up your chimney. Consider glass doors or possibly an easily removable chimney balloon, because even when closed, most manual fireplace dampers leak like a sieve, literally sending money up your chimney.
Cap your attic stairs or scuttle access hatch. These access openings are big holes in the uppermost level of your home, allowing warm air to escape and waste energy. They are also major contributors to costly ice-damming too.
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Add insulation to your attic. Over 2/3’s of American homes are under-insulated, which is akin you to going out on a frigid, winter day without a coat. Your attic insulation is your home’s winter coat, which helps keep your expensive heat inside where it belongs.
Install a humidifier, because moist air holds heat better and allows you to lower the temperature setting and still be comfortable. Plus, moisture is better for your health and protects your home & furnishings from drying out and cracking.
Upgrade to Energy Star rated heating equipment, which can be up to 97% efficient, which translates into 97-cents of every dollar you spend actually being converted into heat inside your home. Compare that to a system that is even just 15-years old, which averages 75% efficient, wasting 25-cents or more of your hard earned money up your chimney, and it’s easy to see how an upgraded system actually pays for itself. Often, holding onto your old heating system can add up to costing you MORE than it would be upgrading, so you could be paying for a new system, just not getting it!
Invest in a professional tune-up. A comprehensive inspection and cleaning will pay for itself in energy savings alone. And, uncovering little problems before they turn into big ones could save you tons of money, not to mention save you from the inconvenience and hassle of be stuck in a freezing house with no heat.
These simple steps are your force-field against high heating bills this winter!
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