Many places in Europe have been experiencing historically cold weather in recent days. Plenty of places in America are dealing with cold weather, too—many with lots of snow.
Even if you don't live in a place living through an extreme cold snap, you are likely going to be chilly at one point or another this winter. You may be tempted to simply turn up the heat at home now, and deal with the financial consequences later. But don't.
With gas prices forecast to rise in the next few months—and energy prices at home likely to follow right along—I would suggest that before you turn up the thermostat, you consider the following 8 no-cost measures that homeowners can take this winter to keep out the cold, stay comfortable, and keep the savings in. These tips are courtesy of Fred Hutchinson, president of Hutchinson Plumbing Heating Cooling in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.
Here are 8 simple no-cost measures homeowners can take this winter to keep the cold out and the savings in:
- Keep your thermostat under 70° F. Set your thermostat at 68° during the day and at 60° at night. You can save approximately 3% on heating costs for every degree under 70°.
- When you're out, turn your thermostat down. If you're away from home for more than four hours during the day, turn the thermostat down to save energy. To prevent pipes from freezing, never turn your heating system off entirely.
- Use your bath, kitchen, and other exhaust fans sparingly. While in use, these fans blow out heated air and bring in cold outdoor air. Leaving a single exhaust fan on can remove a houseful of heat in as little as two hours. (This was quite an eye opener for me as I like to sleep with the bathroom fan on for white noise. Guess I need to get a white noise machine, huh?)
- Maintain proper air circulation. Make sure all heating supply registers and cold-air return registers are clear of draperies, furniture, and other obstructions.
- Clean or replace filters each month. Be sure to clean or replace the filter(s) in your forced-air heating system each month. While foam filters can be rinsed with water (must be dry before replacing), fiberglass filters should be replaced with new ones.
- Let the sunshine in. During the day, open draperies and shades to let the sunshine in, but keep them closed to keep the heat in at night.
- When not in use, keep the fireplace sealed up. If your home has an open masonry fireplace like mine does—I've actually got three of them—you should install a glass screen or a balloon fireplace damper to stop the loss of warm air through the fireplace chimney during non-use. (OK, add glass screen to my shopping list, along with a white noise machine.)
- Make sure your ductwork is properly sealed. System ductwork is outside the conditioned area, such as the ducts in my attic. Use proper mastic or tape to seal duct joints to prevent heated air from escaping outside or from losing its heat in unheated spaces, such as the aforementioned attic.