Every year winter poses a challenge for many homeowners. While you probably want to save on energy consumption, you also would like to stay warm. Fortunately, there are a few home improvements you can make before the cold hits that will decrease your monthly heating bills while still maintaining a toasty home. The sooner you make these changes, the better. For example, you don’t want to be working on window replacements when outdoor temperatures drop.
Tune-up or upgrade your furnace
Change the filters in your furnace and have a technician evaluate its condition. He or she can fix any problems that are causing your system to be inefficient. If you have an old model, you may want to consider upgrading. Choose a furnace with the Energy Star seal to be sure you aren’t wasting energy. Efficient models produce the most heat in your home while using the least amount of energy.
Seal or replace your windows
Old windows can be drafty. If your home has very old windows, replacing them altogether could be the most cost-effective option. Properly installed energy-efficient windows seal your home, preventing cold air from entering and hot air from leaking out. If your windows aren’t terribly outdated, you may not have to replace them. Add storm windows to keep cold air out. Also, search for areas around your windows where air is leaking. Seal these spots up with caulk.
Another way to keep hot air in is by wrapping windows in special plastic. These kits come with tape strips that allow you to adhere the plastic sheets over the window frame. You then use a small vacuum-like devise to make the plastic drum-tight. This will prevent cold air from getting in through drafty windows, thereby acting as indoor climate control.
Use natural light
Make the greenhouse effect work for the good of the environment. Retract your window screens during the day to let sunlight pour inside your home. The energy from the sun will be amplified by the glass on your window and heat up the room. This method is most effective with windows that get a lot of sunlight. Disappearing retractable screens are invisible when not in use. This will ensure that the most possible light will enter your windows and heat the room during the day.
Block off unheated areas
Seal the doors or hatches to unused attics and basements during the winter. Don’t waste energy on rooms that aren’t used. Close vents that bring warm air into these spaces and shut the doors or hatches leading there. The best way to reduce air flow to these spots is by sealing them with new gaskets or door sweeps. Once unused attics and basements are sealed, the trafficked areas of the house will get a concentration of heat.
Get a programmable thermostat
Install a thermostat that allows you to program certain features. For example, you can program the system to increase the temperature of your home during the evening. When you get back from work, you’ll walk into a nice, toasty house. Set the thermostat to decrease the temperature during the day when you are at work. This will keep the cost of heating down as your furnace won’t be wasting energy heating the home when you aren’t there to enjoy it.
Don’t let your furniture block vents that carry warm air. By placing a bed or sofa over a vent, you are preventing the air to disperse about the room. Your furnace will work harder thinking it is not pumping enough heat. When you make sure the vents are open and unblocked, warm air will settle in the house and the furnace will not have to waste energy.