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How to Lower Your Energy Bill this Winter
As any homeowner in the Midwest knows, heating bills get quite expensive during the winter. Fortunately, there are a number of simple ways to reduce how much you spend on energy and save you money on your utility bill this time of year.
Adjust Your Thermostat
By simply turning your thermostat from 72° F down to 65° F for eight hours a day, you can save as much as 10% on annual heating and cooling costs. You can save even more by installing a programmable thermostat. These “smart” thermostats automatically lower and raise your home’s air temperature according to your schedule. Adjust the thermostat so that your home isn’t heated as much while you’re sleeping and for periods when you’re away.
Properly Maintain Your Furnace
Poorly maintained furnaces waste energy and money that could easily be saved. Get a furnace tune up every year to so that it operates at peak performance and to increase its energy efficiency. Proper maintenance also includes cleaning your home’s vents and replacing furnace filters regularly. A dirty filter will make your furnace work harder to keep your house warm, so remember to check on a monthly basis.
Let the Sun In
The sun is a free heat source that should be utilized during the cold winter months. Maximizing the warmth of the sun can be easily harnessed by opening your curtains and blinds on south-facing windows. This will allow the sun to heat your home without you needing to use your furnace as much during the day. When the sun goes down, close all window coverings to keep the heat inside throughout the night.
Use Ceiling Fans
Homes that have better airflow and ventilation are more energy efficient, and using a ceiling fan is an easy way to achieve better airflow. If you have ceiling fans in your household, use them to your advantage by changing their rotation between seasons. During winter months, adjust your fans to a clockwise direction on a lower setting. This will push heated air back down to your level and keep the area warmer.
Drafty windows and under-insulated attics are common in homes built before 1980. The lack of proper insulation allows heat to escape from the house and lets cool air in. These air leaks lead to increased energy consumption and much higher heating bills. Generally, if you have less than 12 inches of attic insulation, you’ll need to add another layer. Use insulation to seal areas where heat might escape and use foam weather stripping on your windows and doors.
Dress for Warmth
Something as simple as warming yourself up is a great way to reduce energy usage. Wearing season-appropriate clothing indoors allows you to be more comfortable without needing to crank the heat up. Before turning up the thermostat dial, try layering first! Put on a heavy sweater, fleece pants, and some warm socks. For extra warmth, use throw blankets or add an area rug to insulate the floor.
Don’t Heat Every Room
Only heat rooms you use so your furnace doesn’t have to worker harder for that unnecessary extra square footage. If you have a guest bedroom that rarely gets used or have a large storage room, think about closing the heat registers in those areas. By sealing off the vents, you direct the flow of heated air to the rooms that are used most. You could also call your local heating and cooling company to “zone” your home to be able to control the temperatures in different rooms separately.
Close Fireplace Doors
An unused fireplace can act like a black hole for heat inside your home. To keep heat from escaping up the flue, install tempered glass doors and make sure they’re closed when not in use. Close the flue and the dampers to keep rising heat in your home. In addition, minimize the use of exhaust fans in your kitchen and bathroom. They may remove odors but they also pull heated air out of your home. Use these exhaust fans sparingly during the colder months and shut them off when you’re done with them.
Turn on the Humidifier
Using a humidifier to add moisture to the air in your home can help you feel comfortable during the winter months, even when your thermostat is set at a lower temperature. The relative humidity in the home should be between 20 - 40%. The additional moisture makes the air feel warmer and holds heat better than dry air. If your furnace doesn’t have a built-in humidifier, use a portable unit in the most frequently used rooms. House plants assist in adding humidity too!
We’re here to help homeowners in the Chicago western suburbs stay warm this winter! If you have any furnace needs or would like a heating professional’s opinion, contact the experts at Cardinal Heating & Cooling today!
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