Everybody loves to save money, especially around the holidays, and for many people your home represents a great opportunity to save more in the winter months. With a little effort, you can save money in the short-term and the long-term without a whole lot of cost or work on your part. Here are a few places you can start.
You run your furnace to warm up the house, but perhaps one of the most important factors in whether or not your home is keeping that heat in or letting it escape to the frigid outdoors is the quality and amount of insulation in your walls and ceilings. Insulation comes in many different forms, so it’s important to find out which R-value is recommended based on your climate. R-value is a measure of how much thermal resistance your insulation has, a factor of its thickness and density.
If your home is older, chances are your insulation isn’t performing as well as it should; and just like any industry, insulation quality has improved over time, so this year is a great time to think about adding more insulation to your home by calling a contractor.
Another great way to save money and energy is by using a programmable thermostat. They are available for most every furnace model (except maybe ones that are very old), and in a wide range of prices to fit your budget. These thermostats allow you to set times of the day and certain temperatures when the furnace will kick on and go off, allowing you to turn down the heat when you’re away at school or work without coming home to a freezing cold house. It also allows you to turn down the temperature a few degrees at night to save some energy, with a setting to come on as you’re waking up to warm up your home in the mornings. When you get your programmable thermostat, set it at the lowest temperature where you and your family are comfortable—even one or two degrees lower can make a big difference in how much energy you use each day.
Heat can escape from your home through poorly insulated walls and ceilings, but if you find that your energy usage is increasing and your furnace bills are going up, chances are most of that heat loss is through older windows and doors. You can save money by replacing old windows and doors with energy-efficient versions that won’t allow warm air to escape outside or cold air to leak inside. Replacement windows come with features like low-e coating, double or triple panes, and gas between the panes, all of which is designed to reduce energy loss. There is an initial cost up front to get these windows or doors installed, but often they will pay for themselves over time with all your monthly energy savings.
If you like to leave the blinds closed, keep in mind that you might be able to save some money on heating costs during the day by opening those blinds and letting in some sunlight. Opening south-facing window coverings during the day can allow sunlight to naturally warm the room.
If you’re interested in learning more about some of these energy savings, call a home exterior specialist who can help you find out which areas will provide you with the most savings during the cold winter months.