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While a Waterloo Region winter brings the holidays, sweaters and scarves, and cozy nights curled up by the fire, this blustery season also brings higher heating costs. Want to know the cheapest way to heat a home and how to make it as energy-efficient as possible? We’ve collected the 9 best ways to keep your home warm without breaking the bank.
- Adjust Your Thermostat
Turning down a thermostat, particularly while you’re at work, sleeping, or on vacation, is the most obvious way to keep heating costs low. You will get a better night’s sleep, extend the life of your refrigerator and even help you lose weight if you keep your thermostat below 65 degrees (by pushing your body to speed up its metabolism to control its temperature).
Without your pipes freezing, you can comfortably set your thermostat as low as 55 degrees while on holiday. For each degree that you lower your thermostat, you can expect to save 1 percent on your energy bill.
Another alternative is a smart thermostat for those of us who are more forgetful. A smart thermostat completely eliminates the human factor, allowing you to keep your home at a comfortable temperature all winter long without any effort on your part. They study your habits and change the temperature automatically to optimize productivity and savings.
- Keep Vents Clean
Another valuable recommendation is to keep your vents clean to reduce heating costs. Make sure that they are not blocked by furniture or rugs if they are on the floor. This will prevent your heater from working overtime or only sending heat to one portion of your house.
In rooms you don’t use, make sure to close the vents as well as shut the door to those rooms. To prevent warm air from leaving areas of the house you want warm, you can go one step further and block the bottom of the door to unused rooms. Another simple and inexpensive way of redirecting heat to your ideal living space is through air return vent covers.
- Profit from Your Fireplace
Wood burning fireplaces are one of the easiest ways to heat a house, if you are lucky enough to have one. While building a fire can be a cheap and efficient way to heat your house, be sure to keep the damper closed if you don’t use your fireplace.
Leaving the damper open is like leaving a wide open 48-inch window during the winter and can add up to hundreds of dollars each winter in energy costs.
4 Check Door and Window Seals
If your window and door frames are poorly sealed they will allow heat to escape and cold air to seep in. If you’re not sure if your windows and doors are too drafty, keeping a candle near the frame and watching to see if it flickers is an easy way to check. If and when you do find any air leaks, add weather stripping rubber to large gaps and fill with caulk in smaller areas.
Roll up a hand towel and position it at the base if warm air escapes through gaps under your doors that weather stripping cannot be used on. You could even make a DIY draft snake if you are crafty.
- Dress Warmer and Get Better Bedding
Since keeping ourselves comfortable is the reason we turn up the heat, it makes sense to lower the temperature on your thermostat and simply wear some warmer clothing. You don’t have to wear a parka around the house, but put on a sweater and some wool socks, or buy a soft, fuzzy bathrobe for yourself this winter, to wear while you’re padding around the house. You could even opt for one of those fun – and cozy – adult onesies.
By ensuring that your bedding is up to standard, you can also stay warm at night. Down-filled duvets are very effective. A filling power of 600-plus is the warmest choice and a duvets’s fill-power can be found on the label or tag.
- Reverse Your Ceiling Fan
Some may think that ceiling fans are only for the summer to keep cool, but in the winter they can also be the cheapest way to help heat a home. It will force rising warm air to the ceiling to be spread down the walls and back to the floor if you set your fan to rotate clockwise at a low velocity. This will make a space feel warmer, allowing you to decrease the temperature of your thermostat and save on heating bills.
It is easy to reverse the direction of your ceiling fan, as most ceiling fans include wall or remote controls which make it as easy as pressing a button. A toggle switch should be located on the motor housing below the blades if your fan does not come with one of these controls.
- Use Window Treatments Wisely
Keep your blinds open on sunny winter days to allow direct sunlight to shine through your windows. This can be one of the most powerful ways to heat your house, not to mention that it’s totally free. In fact this approach is referred to as passive solar heating and can be maximized if materials such as tile, wood, steel, concrete, or any other material that can serve as a heat sink during warmer months and a heat source during colder months are present in your home.
It can also help to minimize heating costs by knowing the correct times to keep your blinds or curtains closed. Closing your blinds and curtains will help retain heat on cloudy days or when the sun goes down, by serving as an insulator between the cold glass and the space you are trying to keep warm.