Easier Ways to Warm your Home
There are many ways to stay warm during the winter. While you could go visit family in Florida all winter long, there are cheaper alternatives that are just as effective and don’t force you to travel 3,000 miles just to avoid snow, ice, and the cold. Simple home repairs and a few extra adjustments to your daily routine can help you save money while still staying warm.
Home Fixes and Upgrades
Fix drafts and avoid the Stack Effect – Drafty homes are going to draw in cooler air and leak out the warm air you’re trying to hold in place. This is compounded by the stack effect, where warm air rises out of the home. Since warm air travels upward, it escapes through chimneys and gaps in the ceiling or insulation in the attic. As it leaves, it creates a negative pressure area in the lower levels of your home, drawing cold air in. Sealing gaps, leaks, and weather stripping on doors and windows is key to preventing heat loss.
Programmable Thermostats – By design, a programmable thermostat will help you save money while still keeping your home comfortably warm throughout the day. You want to lower the thermostat when you’re away from home, especially for longer periods, but you do not want the inside of your home to freeze completely, as that can lead to damaged pipes and other problems. If your house is empty during the day lower the temperature to 60 degrees, and raise it back to 68 (or higher if you need to) for the times when you’re home. Likewise, lower the temperature while sleeping. In addition to costing you less at night, your heater dries out the air and sleeping in dry air can leave you with a sore throat and chapped skin in the morning.
Keep Vents Clear – That means do no close off vents in your home. Don’t do it deliberately and don’t do it accidentally by leaving furniture, bookshelves, or anything else blocking a vent. At higher temperatures it’s a hazard, but even when it’s not dangerous, a blocked vent builds up backpressure in your ventilation system that impedes heating and it prevents warm air from entering the room.
Alternate Heat Sources
Fireplaces – The default for heating your home without needing the central air. Just keep in mind that a fireplace will only warm a few rooms, and only the room that houses the fireplace will be comfortably warm. It’s cheaper to burn a few logs at night before bed than it is to run the heater all day long but you’ll be limited to the rooms warmed by your fireplace. So make fireplace days an event and focus your family activities in just the one room.
Likewise, don’t forget to close the fireplace flue after you’re done with the fire. A glass enclosure and a fireplace flue are both necessary for keeping heat in when the fire has gone out. Leaving the flue open is an immediate opportunity to chill your house down with the stack effect.
Space Heaters, Ovens – Let’s face it, the holiday season is here and you’ve already done a lot of cooking. You’ll be doing a lot more so why not take advantage and cook using your oven as often as possible. Your oven is a key heat source and will give off a substantial amount of heat energy over the course of the holidays. All of that heating is going to warm your home as well. An energy-efficient or gas oven is a great way to help keep your home warm while giving you great meals all winter long.
And of course, space heaters are a perfect tool for keeping specific rooms warm while lowering the overall house temperature. Just be sure to monitor them at all times.
Passive or “Free” Heating Methods
Sunlight During the Day, Curtains at Night – Windows are designed to be as insulated as they can possibly be. But light still gets in and heat can still leak out. Leaving your windows open during the day on sunward sides allows heat from the sun to enter your home and keep things warm. But, as nice as the moon is on winter nights, keep your curtains closed on cloudy days and at night to keep heat inside your home. Curtains will act as a temperature barrier, insulating against heat moving through glass.
Ceiling Fans – Air circulation is just as important as heat generation. Warm air is going to rise, pooling at the ceiling and trying to make its way out of your home through cracks, gaps, or openings. So while the tall people in your family will be warm, those closer to the floor will be dealing with slightly colder temperatures. Turn on your ceiling fans in reverse to help circulate that air around. In reverse operation, a ceiling fan will draw up cold air and push warm air back down along the walls, helping to regulate a room’s temperature and keep hot and cold spots from forming.
Close some doors – Some rooms are just cold. A particularly drafty room or an external room that’s shaded and can’t take advantage of the sun’s light may stay colder than the rest of the house. Close the door to rooms like these to help keep heat in the rest of the house. Your central air system won’t have to struggle to keep the other room warm and you’ll only have to deal with the cold room when you need to enter it.
Keep People Warm – This is honestly the most important part of staying warm this winter. Sweaters, flannel, blankets, and warm blankets at night are the best way to save money on staying warm. They don’t cost anything after they’ve been purchased and you stay completely warm throughout the winter. Lowering the thermostat in your home and avoiding generating extra heat so you can walk around in a t-shirt and shorts is the best way to keep your winter-heating bills down.
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