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Staying Warm for Less This Winter
You don’t want to pay an arm and a leg to heat your home, but you also don’t want to spend all winter huddled under a blanket. Luckily, there are several things you can do to cut your heating costs without sacrificing your comfort this winter.
Start by having your furnace checked by a professional to make sure it is running safely and efficiently. Keep the filters clean. If your furnace is older, you might consider replacing it with a new, energy-efficient model.
You also can save money if you turn your heat down at night and when you are at work. Or better yet, get your thermostat to do it for you. You don’t want to pay to heat your house when you are not home or when you are snug in bed under the blankets. A programmable thermostat can turn down the heat while you are at work or in bed, and then turn it up 30 minutes or so before you get home or get up for the day.
Don’t waste heat in places you are not. If you have zoned heating, you can turn the heat way down in parts of the house you don’t use often. However, try to shut those rooms off from the rest of the house so that your other furnace doesn’t work overtime to raise the temperature to the thermostat setting in the rooms you are using.
You also can turn the heat down throughout your house and use space heaters in the rooms you use most often. Be careful to use space heaters safely, though, because they can be a significant fire hazard.
And of course, if you are going to be gone for several days, turn the heat down. Just don’t turn it down so far that you risk coming home to frozen pipes.
As much as possible, keep the drafts out. Hold a candle near your windows and doors to identify where cold air might be coming in from outside. To combat heat loss through windows, you can replace old windows with new, energy-efficient ones, or you can use plastic shrink-wrap kits to cover your leaky windows. Stop door leaks by replacing weatherstripping or putting a decorative draft-stopper at the bottom of the door.
Make sure you have sufficient insulation in your attic. If not, this is a project you might be able to handle over a weekend.
Opening the windows on sunny days can let in warming sunlight – and can make the house cheerier. However, insulated drapes can help keep the cold out when it is dark or really frigid.
If you have a fireplace, keep the flue closed when you don’t have a fire so that the heat does not go up the chimney. Don’t leave the door open more than absolutely necessary.
And, when all else fails, put on another sweater.