Cost Effective Ways to Keep House Warm in Winter
By Jacquelyn Nause
A drafty home can be a real drain on your wallet, but the cost of replacing windows and doors, adding insulation and upgrading heating systems carries an even higher price tag. While you save for larger repairs, you can do a few simple things to cut down on energy bills during the winter months.
What’s the Best Way to Cover Windows in Winter?
Heat escapes through walls, the roof, floors, windows and doors. Knowing the source of the heat loss in your home will help you make the right adjustments and renovations to make your home as thermally efficient as possible.
Often, older homes have doors with improper seals or single-pane windows. Double or triple glazing windows can significantly reduce heat loss but is a bit more expensive. You can mimic the same effect by using window insulation kits with a clear film that helps trap air between the window and the film. Air is a poor conductor of heat, so this greatly reduces heat loss.
If you can rattle your windows, they are letting a lot of air in around the frame. Caulking any gaps in window or door frames can help reduce leaks and only costs a few bucks. Door snake draft stoppers are also an affordable, easy to install solution to help reduce heat loss up to 11 percent. Seal larger gaps around doors with self-adhesive foam weather stripping.
Curtains and blinds are also a practical, affordable investment that helps to reduce drafts from windows. Open curtains in rooms that get natural sunlight during the day to harness the sun’s heat, then close the blinds and curtains as it gets dark to reduce heat loss.
Can Fireplaces Offer a Solution?
While a wood-burning fireplace might seem like a great way to heat your home, much of the heat generated is lost up the chimney. Cold air from the rest of the house is pulled in to fuel the fire, which warms the air that is then directed up the chimney. The solution is to install a glass barrier in front of the fireplace to slow down the flow of air from the home and up the chimney. An electric blower delivers more warm air to the room while managing the flow of air in, more efficiently warming the room.
The same goes for when there is no fire—if there is a faulty damper, you could lose warm air out the chimney. When not in use, close the chimney and fireplace as tightly as possible to keep heating costs down. A flue sealer or chimney balloon can also provide inexpensive, removable protection from heat loss.
Cost-friendly Practices to Save on Heating
Here are more small tweaks to help save on heating costs.
- Clean your filter. A clogged furnace filter operates much less efficiently, so stick to a regular maintenance schedule to keep it working at top performance.
- Maintain your hot water heater. Insulating a tank water heater and slightly lowering the household water temperature are small tasks that will equal big savings in heating costs.
- Control the temperature. Program your thermostat or install smart thermostats so you can set a schedule for heating your home. During hours when the home is vacant, set the temperature low enough to protect the home from cold damage, generally between 58 and 62 degrees Fahrenheit. Also, set the temperature to be lower at night, and close off any rooms that aren’t used.
- Clear the vents. Be sure heating vents are clear and don’t blow directly toward large pieces of furniture that may block the flow of air.
- Use ceiling fans. If you have ceiling fans, reverse the rotation and run them at the lowest setting. This helps send the warm air near the ceiling down to mix with the cooler air below, which should slightly warm the air. If it is too cooling, turn the fan off.
- Use throw rugs. Put down area rugs on hardwood and tile floors. Not only do they provide insulation from heat loss, but they are also warmer on cold feet!
- Shower with the door open. If not a privacy concern, leave the shower door open while you shower, so that warm, humid air can fill the house.
It’s possible to keep your home comfortable without ramping up the heating bill, and these expert tips are a great place to start while you make plans for your next energy-saving renovation.
Jacquelyn Nause is a contributing writer with specialties in real estate, parenting and wellness. She enjoys traveling with her husband, being a doting mother to her two incredible kids and enjoying the beautiful Pacific Northwest playground.