While there's not much you can do to control the cost of oil, natural gas, or propane, you can save money this winter by avoiding a few common heating mistakes.
"You can save 30 percent by using your home more efficiently," says Maria Vargas, Brand Manager at Energy Star Program. And you don't have to sacrifice comfort along the way, either. Here are simple energy saving strategies that can help keep your costs down this winter.
Mistake #1: Ignoring Drafts
No need to live wrapped in blankets if you follow these steps to solving your heating mistakes. Photo: jinglejammer
That cool air you feel seeping in is a blatant sign that your home is losing heat. Stop ignoring drafts! Check for cracks around doors, windows, foundations, fireplaces, and other areas. Use caulk, weather stripping, door sweeps, or plastic to close off leaks and keep the warm air inside your home.
Mistake #2: Leaving a Ventilation Fan Running
During the winter, don't let the bathroom fan or kitchen hood fan run for longer than necessary. Ventilation fans can suck all the heated air right out of your home. But, don't avoid using ventilation fans. Mold and mildew are always looking for a warm moist place to hide.
Mistake #3: Taking the Furnace for Granted
Maintain your heating equipment throughout the year. Regularly check and clean the filters in your furnace every 3 months. Dirty air filters can reduce the air flow in your system and make your furnace work harder.
Mistake #4: Raising the Thermostat Too High
If your furnace is struggling to reach a desired temperature, don't turn the thermostat higher than the desired temperature. You'll just make your furnace work even harder. Instead, look for the problem and try to fix it. Or if you're heater is just not strong enough, take note, and adjust accordingly.
Save money by heating less. Use a programmable thermostat.
Mistake #5: Heating an Empty House
Take advantage of a programmable thermostat to regulate the temperature of your home while you're away. It's important to program the thermostat to reflect your family's schedule to get the most out of it And it can save you up to $180 a year in energy costs, according to Energy Star.
Mistake #6: Going to Extremes
Turning down the temperature at night seems like a good idea to save money on the heating bill. But if you turn the air back too far at night, it can cost you when you raise the temperature on the thermostat in the morning. Avoid extremes as the contents of your home will need to be heated as well as the air and that can take time.
Save energy by setting your washing machine to wash on cold whenever possible.
Mistake #7: Washing Everything in Hot Water
Whenever your fabrics can tolerate it, turn the dial on your washer to cold. Washing clothes in cold water saves the cost of heating that water.
Mistake #8: Keeping the Curtains Drawn (or Keeping Them Not Drawn)
Opening window treatments when the sun is shining and close the curtains when the sun isn't. This will give your home a heating boost from the sun and keep the heat in during the dark night. Also, pay attention to opening the curtains and shades on the side of your home where the sun strikes the windows.
By locking your windows you make an air-tight seal and keep cold air out.
Mistake #9: Keeping Windows Unlocked
It might sound too simple to believe, but locking your windows creates an airtight seal that keeps out air leaks and drafts.
Mistake #10: Going It Alone
Energy audits by a professional are the best way to know about your home's energy use. You can take advantage of Energy Star's free online tools by entering information about how you heat your home. The Home Energy Advisor provides energy-saving home improvement recommendations for homes where you live. The Home Energy Yardstick compares your home's energy use to similar homes in your area.
How to Make Your Fireplace More Efficient (Lifehacker)
7 Ways to Stay Warm on the Cheap (Wisebread)
Greening Your Heating (CasaSugar)