Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Cheap and Easy Ways to Save on Winter Heating

Brace yourselves, homeowners: winter is coming. Take advantage of the beautiful fall weather to tackle some home-winterization projects that can not only save you money but also help you avoid expensive repairs in the long term.

1. Dodge the Draft- That is, make sure the cold air stays outside where it belongs by plugging up any drafty areas in your living area. This can be as simple as purchasing a draft snake, a filled fabric tube that you lay down in front of the cracks underneath your door. Draft snakes come in a wide variety of designs and patterns in order to best match your home d├ęcor and personality. If you’re feeling crafty and wish to save even more money, you can make your own draft snakes by rolling up towels or blankets to place in front of drafty doors, or sewing long fabric pouches and filling with kitty litter or sand.

2.  It’s Caulkin’ Time!- Eliminate the money-sucking problem of warm air escaping from cracks and gaps in windows, walls and doors by sealing them with caulk. Business Insider suggests having a friend stand outside the door or window with the suspected gaps with a blow dryer while you hold a lit candle on the other side. If the dryer blows out the candle, then you’ll know where to caulk.

3. Think Thermostat- Remember to set the thermostat at 68 degrees or lower when you are asleep or away from the house. A programmable digital thermostat is a good way to ensure that the house stays at certain pre-programmed temps throughout the day. You may also wish to invest in a smart thermostat, like Nest. These nifty devices “learn” your daily patterns so you can rest assured you’re not heating an empty house, and they can be regulated remotely from a smartphone app! Many electric companies offer rebates and incentives for outfitting your home with a programmable or smart thermostat.

4. Bubble Wrap Your Windows- Need a quick, cheap fix for old windows that may be leaking cold outside air in through the cracks? Just spray your windows with water and affix sheets of bubble wrap to them. The clear bubble wrap will still allow natural light into the house, and if you choose windows that aren’t the focal point of a room, no one will be the wiser.

5. Reverse Your Fans- Not everyone knows that your ceiling fan rotation can be reversed to produce warmer air during winter months. Check your manual to see where the direction switch is on your fan, and flip the switch in the opposite direction. Fans that rotate clockwise produce warm air, thus circulating it throughout your living space and cutting down on the need for central heating.

6. Lower Water Heater Temp- The default setting for conventional water heaters is 140°F, yet most households only need a 120°F setting to have enough hot water. Lowering your water heater by 20 degrees can save about 6 to 10% on your energy bills, according to energy.gov.

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