Winter is just around the corner and we all can look forward to higher energy costs. Depending on where you live and the severity of the winter, heating bills can really get out of hand. The dead of winter is no time to be trying to make your home more energy efficient. Smart homeowners will take a proactive approach and be prepared before the first sever weather hits. Here are 7 preparation tips to help keep your winter heating bill down.
- Check windows and doors – The first item on the agenda should be to check all your windows and doors for leaks that will cause heat loss. Now is a good time to caulk any cracks because the caulking material will not adhere as well in freezing temperatures. Install storm windows where appropriate or cover them with clear plastic. Replacing any leaky windows and doors with more energy efficient ones may be a big upfront expense, but will pay for itself in the long run by decreasing your heating bills.
- Furnace checkup – Fall is the best time to give your furnace a thorough checkup. Be sure to change filters and check all your ductwork for blockage, damage or leaks. Also make sure the furnace is vented properly. The more efficiently your furnace runs, the lower your heating bills will be.
- Check your home exterior – Another important step to prevent unnecessary heat loss is to check your homes exterior for any way that heat can escape. Gaps around chimneys, pipes, wires and vents need to be insulated or caulked. Replace any damaged siding and check for cracks in the foundation. Making these minor repairs now will save on your energy costs throughout the winter months.
- Window blinds – Heat is lost through the glass of even the most energy efficient windows in your home. Insulated window blinds or curtains can give you some added protection for those cold winter nights. Open the blinds during sunny days to get all the heat you can from the sun and then pull the blinds at night to keep all that free solar warmth inside your home.
- Insulate – Any money spent on extra insulation is a good investment that will give you big returns on your winter heating bills. Start with your attic to make sure it’s at least an R30 and that it’s vented properly. Your walls should be at least an R11 and any homes built before 1950 may need blow in insulation. Also check crawl spaces to make sure they’re adequately insulated including pipes and ductwork. Insulating basement walls is a must to prevent heat escaping through the ground around your house.
- Programmable thermostat – Installing a programmable thermostat can really help keep your heating bills low while keeping your home at a comfortable temperature. You can program the thermostat to keep the temperature low when nobody is home and at night when everyone is snuggled into bed. The heat can be set to increase before you get up in the morning or when you get home from work. This keeps your furnace running consistently and efficiently instead of constantly turning the heat up or down and wasting precious energy.
- Firewood – If you’re fortunate enough to live in an area where there’s an abundance of firewood available, you can really save on your winter energy costs. They say that firewood provides you with heat several times over during the process of cutting, splitting, hauling and stacking it. Even though the physical work can be tough, it pays big dividends on your heating bills. Check your wood burning furnace or fireplace before the winter months to make sure it’s working properly and get the chimney cleaned.
Winter weather is always unpredictable and we can never count on a mild winter season. Taking the extra time now to be prepared will pay off when the first cold temperatures arrive. Winter storms with icy roads and piles of snow to shovel will give you plenty to worry about when it happens. The last thing you need in the dead of winter is higher than normal heating bills. With a little timely preparation, you can enjoy the winter snow outside and then warm up in your cozy, energy efficient home.