The less energy you use, the less you spend on bills – it’s that simple. But using less energy doesn’t have to mean sacrificing comfort. Using the tips below will not only save energy (and money) but will keep you warm and comfy all winter long.
1. Set your thermostat to 68 degrees
For every degree you lower your thermostat below 70, you’ll save an easy 5% on your heating costs. Just a 2-degree decrease, from 70 to 68 degrees, rounds up to a nice 10% cut in your energy expenses.
With that said, DON’T turn the heat off while you’re away. It takes more energy to bring your home back to a comfortable temperature, and your pipes could burst if the temperature drops below freezing. Instead, simply lower your thermostat down a few degrees.
2. Invest in a programmable or smart thermostat
Programming your thermostat enables you to lower the temperature when you are at work or asleep to conserve energy and raise the temperature before you return home to maximize comfort. The majority of programmable thermostats allow you to set multiple time frames and temperatures to fit your lifestyle. We recommend smart thermostats, such as the Nest, as they can save you 10 to 12 percent in heating costs.
3. Flip your fan switch
If your ceiling fan has a reverse switch, you’ll want to flip that when you turn your heat on, making your fan’s blades spin clockwise. This causes the fan to produce an updraft, forcing the hot air that rises to your ceiling down and into the rest of the room.
4. Open blinds and drapes during the day and close them at night
During the day, let the sunshine in through your windows for added warmth. At night, make sure all windows are covered to prevent drafts and loss of heat through the glass.
5. Move furniture away from vents
Take a quick look around the house and double-check that none of the vents are blocked. If they are, find a way to move your furniture, at least for the winter. This will make sure every room is reaching its maximum warming potential.
6. Direct the heat to the rooms you use the most
Speaking of ensuring each room reaches maximum heat, closing the doors and vents to unused rooms will help focus the home heating efforts to the important portions.
7. Be mindful of wood-burning fireplaces
It may be warm right by the crackling flames, but all the heat being exhausted up through the fireplace pulls cold air into the house elsewhere. Be sure to use a glass front for your fireplace and remember to keep the flue closed when the fireplace isn’t in use to help keep most of the heated air in your home from escaping up the chimney once the flames have gone out.
8. Seal ducts and plug door and window leaks
Check the tightness of air ducts and be sure to plug any visible open spots with insulation material. While you’re at it, check your doors and windows — they could be responsible for wasting 10% of your energy costs. Fix these leaks by installing weather-stripping or caulk around drafty doors and windows. Electrical outlets in exterior walls are also an extremely common cause of heat loss in your home, as are the gaps around water pipes where they pass through walls. Make sure you inspect these areas of your home and seal up any cracks to further reduce heating costs.
9. Increase ceiling insulation
Looking for a quick 5-25% reduction in heating loss? You can find it right above your head. If your ceiling isn’t properly insulated, it’s letting warm air out and raising your heating costs as your thermostat works constantly to keep the temperature up. For best results, consider increasing your insulation to R-38.
10. Maintain your heating system
Keep the filter clean and hire a licensed contractor to inspect your unit. If your unit has been in use for 15 years or longer, consider getting an upgrade for improved efficiency.
11. Add layers to wood floors
Uninsulated wood floors can account for up to 10% of a home’s heat loss. Carpets and rugs keep rooms warmer. Add a rug or roll of carpet to trap heat and protect your feet.
12. Switch to a fixed-rate plan
Variable-rate plans fluctuate every month according to market conditions. That means what you pay per therm this month could be more, less, or the same as the previous month. Fixed rates, on the other hand, are locked and remain unchanged throughout the term of your contract — usually 6, 12, 18 or 24 months. Fixed rates are lower than variable rates and a consistent rate helps you better manage your winter heating budget.
13. Wear warm clothes
This is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to lower your gas bills during the winter. Most energy efficiency websites recommend a maximum heating temperature setting of less than 70 degrees. For those of you who feel cold at temperatures below 70 degrees, a light jacket, sweatshirt, long sleeve shirt, or sweater can help keep you warm without having to raise your thermostat temperature and therefore your natural gas usage.
14. Trim Those Trees
Although not so much an issue of energy efficiency, ailing trees and limbs near your home can certainly create a hazardous situation when the weather gets bad. High winds and ice can send limbs and tress crashing to the ground, through windows, walls or onto your roof. Besides the damage to your home, there’s also the chance that people get hurt from this.
There you have it – a winter survival guide that leaves you warm and stress-free financially. If you need help getting your natural gas up and running this winter, drop us a line!