Beat the Heat (Bill)
Six of the hottest tricks to keep you warm, and save you money
Bomb cyclones. Frigid temperatures. And increasingly high heating bills. For many of us living in the United States, this is what we’ve come to expect when the winter months arrive. The icy-cold weather, and the cost of cranking the heat, are enough to send shivers down anyone’s spine. But it doesn’t always have to be doom and gloom. In fact, here are six amazingly simple—and clever—ways to stay warm this winter, without busting your wallet.
1. Let Some Light In
Take advantage of the most energy efficient heating source in the universe, the sun. If you live in an area that gets consistent daytime sunlight, passive solar heating may be perhaps the simplest, and cheapest, way to stay warm during the winter. Each morning, open up the curtains and blinds to allow some natural light to flow freely into your living space. Not only will your floors and room soak up the much-needed heat, but studies have shown that bright, natural light also increases productivity and boosts mood. Take that, coffee. And if ample sunlight is tough to come by during the winter, keep reading, there are other options.
2. Bump the Thermostat Down When You Go to Sleep
While this may indeed make your home a few degrees cooler in the evening, you’ll profit from tremendous savings. That’s because lowering the thermostat prevents the heat from continuously running all night. Cutting out a lot of wasted power. In fact, according to the Department of Energy, turning the thermostat back by seven to ten degrees, could save you an average of 10% a year on your energy bill. And if those added savings don’t help you sleep at night, maybe a cooler room will.
3. Fire Up the Wood Stove
Since its discovery some several thousand years ago, fires have helped man (and woman) survive even the harshest of winters. No wonder it’s one of the fastest growing sources of heat in the U.S. If your home boasts a safe, and operable woodstove, you may want to consider using it as a secondary source of heat. More efficient than fireplaces, woodstoves can effectively heat spaces up to 3,000 square feet, depending on the layout. And with an average cost of around $220-$400 for a cord of wood—which should last a full winter—they’re extremely cheap to run too.
4. Run the Ceiling Fan… Backwards
Turning the ceiling fan on while it’s cold out might not seem like the best idea, but remember heat rises. That’s why many experts suggest reversing your ceiling fans in the winter allowing the slight updraft of air to push heat back down toward you. Try running them on a low setting. Instead of cooling you down, this will help circulate heat around the room, and around the thermostat—providing more accurate readings. It might seem like a small change, but the savings can be big. Just be careful on that step-ladder.
5. Seal Leaks and Cracks in Your Home
You could have the most efficient heating unit on the market, but it makes no difference if that heat is escaping through unintentional gaps or cracks in the house. On average, homeowners spend about 15% of their annual energy budget on air leaks. That’s like money literally seeping out of your home. The good news is, you can seal most of these leaks yourself. Apply foam weather-stripping around windows and underneath doors. Fill gaps around chimneys and flues with high-temperature caulk. And because heat rises, check the quality of your attic’s insulation.
6. Go Green and Save Some
The winter months are notorious for producing cold and dry indoor air, forcing us to run the heat around the clock, just to feel comfortable. On top of all that, the lack of moisture has a negative effect on the body—drying out skin and aggravating sinuses. You could buy a humidifier and run it electrically. But a cheaper, and more attractive, alternative might be to turn the heat down and place a few indoor plants around the house. Plants, through the process of transpiration, release an incredible amount of moisture into the air. That humidity will help to lock in the heat, and keep you feeling warm.