Keep Heat In
As temperatures fall in the winter, furnaces and HVAC systems start working harder and utility bills begin to rise. Living in a cold house is uncomfortable at best and takes a toll on your health at worst. But no one wants to pay sky high utility bills. So, here are a few tips to help you stay warm and cozy in the winter, while keeping your utility bills from getting out of control:
Use your curtains wisely
Keep your curtains open when the sun is shining to allow the heat into your home. But be sure to close them once the sun goes down to trap that heat indoors. And if you invest in insulated curtains, this works even better.
Check your vents
Locate all the vents in your house and make sure you don’t have anything blocking that warm air from getting into the room. Move furniture as necessary and make sure not to pile any clothes or other items over furnace vents.
Minimize attic heat loss
Heat rises, and if your attic isn’t properly insulated you can lose a lot of heat through your roof. Check your attic insulation and make sure you have proper levels to keep as much of the heat you’re paying for in your house instead of floating up and away.
Get rid of the drafts
Windows, doors, and cracks in the floor can let in a very unwelcome chill. If your windows are drafty, there are a few easy, inexpensive solutions: weather stripping can be placed along the sides of the sashes, rope caulk can be used to insulate any gaps, or shrink film can be used to seal the entire window. For doors, you can use weather stripping along the the sides and tops and various draft-stopping solutions for the bottom (better insulated door sweeps, door snakes, etc.) Two of the biggest causes of drafts can be mail slots and pet doors. Be sure to seal those if they aren’t in use.
Warm the floor
If you have hardwood or tile floors that are above a crawl space, use rugs to lessen the heat loss and keep your feet from feeling the cold of the floor. Uninsulated wood floors can account for up to 10% of a home’s heat loss.
Seal unused fireplaces and chimneys
If you have a fireplace you don’t use, consider getting a fireplace plug. Also, make sure to close the flues and drafts (if it has one) of any chimney you aren’t using. This will keep the warm air from traveling up and out of the house. DO NOT close chimneys and flues if you are currently using them.
Reverse your ceiling fans
In the summer you want ceiling fans to blow air down on to you and the space to make you feel cooler. But in the winter you can reverse their direction so they are turning clockwise, to keep the warm air from staying up near the ceiling, without generating a cooling breeze that will make you feel colder.
Close crawl space vents
If you have vents in your foundation that allow your crawl space to breathe in the summer, make sure to seal them before the cold of winter sets in. You want to keep out as much cold air as possible, not only to prevent your floors from being too cold, but also to protect your plumbing and keep the warm air flowing through your ductwork from cooling down too much.
Insulate ductwork and hot water pipes
If your ductwork and plumbing run through a crawl space, make sure they are properly sealed and insulated. Double check each winter that there aren’t any holes or places where the ductwork has come apart. You want all that heat to make it to the living spaces and not spill out into your crawlspace.
Insulate outlets on exterior walls
Electrical outlets and light switch boxes on exterior walls can let in more cold air than you might think, especially in older homes. There are a couple of ways to prevent this heat loss. The simplest way is to buy and install foam gaskets. But if that fails to seal off the air flow, you can use caulk or putty to seal the gaps. You can also put child-safety plugs into outlets when not in use to further prevent cold air from seeping into your home.
If you’re still having higher than normal heating bills give us a call. You might have a problem with your HVAC system, or a leak somewhere in your ductwork. We can check out your system and make sure it’s performing as efficiently as possible and give you advice on keeping warm without breaking the bank.