Brrr . . . it's cold out there! As winter temperatures continue to drop, your heating and electricity bills may be going through the roof. Stay warm on the cheap with a few strategic steps.
Feeling winter's chill? Conserve energy, save money and stay warm with these practical tips. Photo: AP
Punxsutawney Phil the groundhog may have proclaimed that spring isn't far away
, but the huge winter blizzards
paralyzing much of the United States beg to differ. Take for example the residents of Texas, where icy conditions and frigid temperatures forced power providers to implement rolling blackouts statewide.
This after a cold snap shut down 7,000 megawatts of power generators, and caused
the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the state's power grid operator, to declare an energy emergency and beg customers to conserve energy.
While these power outages most likely will lead to a great deal of unhappy customers, it's an opportune time to learn strategic steps that will help you save energy (and lower your utility bills) during the cold winter months. Even with most of the country buried in snow and temperatures hovering around freezing, you can still reduce your energy consumption and keep your home warm. Here are a few energy conservation measures that are easy to implement:
- Open blinds and curtains
during the daytime to take advantage of the sun's natural heat. Close them at night to reduce the chill and keep heat inside your home. You can also use insulated curtains
, which are are specifically designed to keep warmth in and the cold out.
- Use a humidifier.
Humidity holds heat, so raising the humidity level in your home will increase the temperature of your home by as much as 15 degrees. For a DIY humidifier, simmer water on the stove. Or after taking a bath, leave the warm water in the tub.
- Lower thermostats to 68 degrees or less.
When you are asleep or out of the house, turning your thermostat down 10-15 degrees for eight hours can shave 10 percent off your winter heating bills
. There's no need to waste heat when you're not at home!
- Weatherproof your home.
Seal up the drafty openings in your windows and doors with weatherstripping
or draft blockers
. Attach door sweeps to the bottom of your doors to create an air block between the door and threshold.
- Make your fireplace more efficient
Photo: Getty Images
. Wood-burning fireplaces do more for aesthetics than they do for actually heating your home. A significant amount of your home's heat is lost through the chimney, along with your hard-earned money. Maximize the efficiency of a fireplace by installing glass doors, which will help prevent heated air from escaping through the chimney. Make sure the chimney damper is closed when the fireplace is not in use. Also, installing a fireback in your fireplace will reflect heat into the room (instead of sending it up the chimney).
- Layer up.
Layering up is an inexpensive way to stay warm during the winter months. Photo: NY Times
The best way to stay warm is to dress warm, even if that means wearing a hat inside. A great deal of body heat escapes through the head, so a hat will go a long way in keeping you cozy. Also employ undershirts in your wardrobe ensembles, as well as sweatshirts over long-sleeve shirts, and wear wool socks to keep your feet warm. Throw on a blanket, or even a better a Snuggie. According to the NY Times, one out of every 12 Americans owns a Snuggie
; join this toasty, warm crowd.
- Use rugs and carpets in your home.
Rooms with wall-to-wall carpeting have better insulation. If you have hardwood floors, use area rugs in the winter to prevent cold air from seeping up through the floor. Also, place dark-colored rugs in sunny areas of your house to absorb more of the sun's heat.
- Close unused rooms.
Instead of heating rooms you rarely use, closed off these rooms and shut the heater vents located in them.
- Cuddle up.
Baby, it's cold outside, so invite everyone over to stay warm. Body heat is nature's radiator, and the more people in your home the warmer it will be.
Home Heating Mistakes
How to Make Your Fireplace More Efficient
7 Ways to Stay Warm on the Cheap