By Samantha Vercellino
Polar vortex or not, winter is always cold—but staying warm and cozy shouldn’t break the bank. Follow CUB’s simple tips to live comfortably, and save, during the bitter cold.
- Heat efficiently. Your heating system, like any other machinery in your home, will eventually break down. That’s why it’s important to keep tabs on its performance by scheduling routine maintenance with a licensed contractor. When a contractor is not around, replace air filters on a monthly basis, remove dust from the vents, and keep vents open and clear of obstacles to ensure air is distributed evenly throughout your house.
- Don’t Forget The Ducts. It would be a mistake to write-off your ducts because they’re buried deep in your attic or basement. If you have a central heating system, take time to locate your ducts, and properly seal and insulate them this winter season. Tightly sealed and insulated ducts can potentially reduce your energy bills by $120 or more a year.
- Add More Layers. Along with being dull and somewhat spooky, attics and basements do a terrible job of trapping heat. Warm air flows out of your house the most from these two areas—where the biggest gaps and cracks can be found. Fix flawed areas by adding foam-insulating sheets to the attic floor and basement ceiling. (Tip: In the attic, add more insulation if the existing insulation is even or below the attic floor joists.)
- Seal Heat In. It’s hard to keep the chilly outside air out and the warm inside air in when your home is improperly sealed. Hidden air leaks can increase heating bills by as much as 30 percent. Make sure a heating system isn’t overworking by using caulk or weather-stripping to seal small gaps or crevices around windows and doors, or opt for storm doors and windows to prevent heat from escaping.
- Program Comfort. Treat yourself to an early holiday present with the purchase of a programmable thermostat. It allows you to turn the temperature down when you’re gone or sleeping, and back up to a comfortable level when you desire it. When used properly, a programmable thermostat can save you as much as $150 a year on your heating bills.
- If you’ve been extra good this year, opt for a smart thermostat—devices that let you remotely control your temperature settings from your smartphone, tablet or home computer. Plus, right now you can snag up to $120 in utility rebates for these smart, money-saving devices.
- Keep Fans Spinning. Fans aren’t just for summer. Set the thermostat a few degrees lower and run a ceiling fan clockwise (from your position looking up at it) to force warm air down. But remember to conserve electricity by turning it off when no one is in the room.
- Let There Be Light. Not only is it freezing, but the days are also shorter. Keep your place lit without running up your electricity bill by switching to more efficient light fixtures, such as CFLs or LEDs. They not only use less energy than incandescent light bulbs but they also last longer. Replacing just five traditional bulbs can save a homeowner as much as $65 a year.
- Venture outside. Throw on your down jacket and fleece hat, and head outside to check for a damaged roof or chimney. They both provide the perfect opening for chilly air to sneak in. Repair broken shingles, and check the chimney, gutters and downspouts for deterioration.
We hope CUB’s tips help make the winter a bit more bearable.
Want even more great tips? Check out our energy efficiency page.