Fuel prices are on the rise, and even in modern homes, winter can mean dramatic spikes in your utility bills. According to the Department of Energy, heating and cooling costs account for 56 percent of the energy use in an average American home. Don’t stock up on wool socks just yet, though. There’s a lot more you can do than “put on a sweater” this winter to keep your bills down and your home toasty warm.
- Reverse ceiling fans
Ceiling fans aren’t just for summer. Typically, people think of ceiling fans as a way to cool down, but they can also be used for heat. When temperatures start to chill, set your fan to a low speed and use the button the fan to change the direction to clockwise. Warm air trapped at the ceiling will be pulled down to mix with cooler air and warm up the entire room. Do this, and you could see a 15 percent savings on your heating bill for the entire house.
- Use a programmable thermostat
If you have a manual thermostat, it’s time for an upgrade. If you already have one, but don’t know how to use it, time to dig out the manual. “Smart” thermostats don’t cost that much money and more than make up for it in the reduction of utility costs and sheer convenience. They can be programmed to automatically raise and lower temperatures depending on time of day or day of week. And with the proliferation of Wi-Fi in residential homes, many can be controlled via smart phone when you’re away from home.
- Prevent heat loss from your fireplace
Many homes here in the Arlington, VA area have at least one or more fireplaces throughout the residence. This may sound counter-intuitive, but fireplaces can be one of the worst culprits when it comes to heat loss. Yes, loss! If you keep the damper open when a fire is not burning, it’s like leaving a window wide open during the winter, warm air from inside the home escapes right up the chimney. Imagine little dollar bills floating out your chimney, that’s the best way to remember to close the damper each time after enjoying a toasty fire.
There are a lot of other ways to reduce heating and utility costs during the winter season, from investing in LED holiday lights to layering on those ugly holiday sweaters you bought for the last office party. These three simple tips are a great way to get started, though, without a lot of inconvenience or stress, and you’ll notice immediate savings that will go a long way toward a very happy holiday season.