COOLER TEMPERATURES mean that winter is just around the corner, and the months leading up to winter are a good time to prepare for it. There are lots of steps you can take to reduce the expense of staying warm in the winter months, and you can get started now.
Here's how to ensure that your winter energy bill stays low while your home stays warm:
During winter, you'll want to run your ceiling fans with the purpose of distributing the warm air that collects near the ceiling around the room. To do this, you'll run them at a slow pace with the air blowing upwards, which will push the warm air near the ceiling down the walls and circulate it gently throughout the room without cooling. You can do this by flipping the directional switch on your ceiling fan.
Check it by turning it on low and standing directly below it. You should feel little airflow. As you look up at the blades, they should be running clockwise.
You want your vents and radiators to have as much access to open air in your home as possible, so warm air can flow throughout your home and not be trapped behind a chair or desk. Also, take a moment to clean your vents and radiators by giving them a thorough dusting to maximize their efficiency.
If you haven't done so recently, replace the filter for your furnace. A dirty filter obstructs the flow of air through your heating system, meaning that your furnace will have to run longer because less warm air is spreading throughout your house. A new filter will minimize air obstruction while straining out the air particles and dust you don't want in your home.
If you have vacant rooms in your home, close the vents, shut the door and place a blanket or some other type of airflow blocker along the bottom of the door. This will keep you from having to heat this room all winter. It's a good idea to take that step now while the weather is relatively mild, so you're not heating the room when the first cold snap hits.
During the fall, many people allow the temperature in their house to match the climate outside, rarely running the air-conditioning or furnace at all. Take advantage of this and note the indoor temperature at the exact moment it begins to feel uncomfortably cool to you. You'll want to run your furnace at just 1 or 2 degrees above that, so you still feel comfortable but you're not paying to heat your house to a level that's unnecessary.
You'll want to clean and distribute blankets throughout the house – on beds, sofas and chairs. Having a blanket available within arm's reach will often be the nudge you need to grab the blanket rather than turning up the heat. Pull them out now and give them a good cleaning, so they're ready to go when you need them.
Cooking at home has the secondary benefit of keeping your kitchen and surrounding rooms warm with the extra heat from the stove and oven. Take advantage of that and prepare lots of meals at home.
While your kitchen gear isn't efficient at heating the house, cooking at home allows the excess heat from cooking aid you in keeping your home warm. Plus, cooking at home is almost always cheaper than dining out. Cooking adds a bit of moisture to the air, which can help the house feel a bit warmer, too.
One useful strategy for keeping winter energy bills low is to have a set of thicker curtains that you hang over any windows usually kept drawn. In the winter, it's generally a good idea to close the curtains on any windows that aren't receiving direct sunlight.
If you have a set of heavier curtains for those windows, take down the spring and summer curtains and put up the thicker winter ones. While they're closed, they'll help keep the cold air out and warm air in.
If you follow these tips, you'll find yourself keeping warm all winter long without the energy bills blowing you away.