Insulation, weatherstripping, caulking, new windows and furnaces all can keep the cold out — but at a price. Here are five simple ways to be comfortable, save energy dollars and not spend any money.
1.Take advantage of the winter sun – Open curtains and drapes on south-facing windows during the day to allow the sun’s rays to heat your house naturally. If those rays can hit a dark surface, all the better for absorbing some of the solar heat and radiating it back at night. Also at night, close the drapes and curtains you opened in the morning.
2. Set the thermometer as low as is comfortable – By dressing for the season with a sweater or heavier clothes, you can turn down the thermometer to a lower temperature. You can set back the temperature by 10 to 15 degrees at night for eight hours and save about 10 percent a year on heating and cooling. Each degree you set back saves about a percentage point in energy costs.
3. Reduce heat loss from the fireplace – Forget roasting chestnuts in the fireplace. Most of the heat from the wood you burn, plus some drawn from inside your house as well, goes up the chimney. In fact, unless you have a vent to bring outside air right to the fireplace, the cool air sucked in from the outside will flow down the chimney and turn on your gas furnace or electric baseboard heater thermostat. Specifically, here’s what the U.S. Department of Energy suggests for your fireplace:
• Keep damper closed unless a fire is burning.
• When using the fireplace, reduce heat loss by opening dampers in the bottom of the firebox or open the nearest window about 1 inch and close doors leading into the room.
•Lower the thermostat to between 50 and 55 degrees.
• If you never use the fireplace, plug and seal the chimney flue.
• If you do use it, install tempered glass doors and a heat-air exchanger that blows warmed air back into the room.
• Check the seal on the fireplace flue damper to make sure it’s as snug as possible.
• Buy grates made of C-shaped metal tubes to draw cool room air into the fireplace and circulate warm air back into the room.
• Add caulking around the hearth.
4. Lower the water heater temperature – Set it to 120 degrees and save 14 to 25 percent on your home’s energy bill.
5. Keep moisture in the house – A little humidity will make you feel warmer. It’s as simple as keeping a pan of water on the stove and watering indoor plants