November is right around the corner, and before the snow starts fallng, this is the perfect time to get your home ready to keep out the cold this winter.
Living on a budget, for me, means living seasonally. I buy the fresh produce that’s in season, because it costs less. My wet laundry goes on the clothesline to keep from running the dryer as much. I open the windows in the summer and use fans to cool the house to save on air-conditioning. And on the other side of the calendar, I find ways to save on heating costs. Here are six tips to batten the hatches this fall in preparation of hard winter.
1. Check Your Furnace
Have someone come out to check how your furnace is working, and fix any issues that might have been left unresolved since you turned it off last spring. Also, have the tech to check out your ventilation system to be sure it can deliver warm air from your furnace to the rooms of your house that need it. It may cost a little to do this, but it can amount to big savings over this winter season.
In addition, be sure to change your furnace filter on a regular basis. Your furnace has to work harder to heat your home with a dirty filter, and that translates to more cost.
2. Stop Drafts
No matter how smoothly your furnace runs, your house will lose a lot of that savings if there’s a draft. Cold air invades your warm home around the edge of doors and windows. To cut the draft, we put our storm windows back in, apply foam seal strips around the edge of door frames and window sills, place homemade draft guards to place on the floor at the bottom edge of the door, caulk any sizable cracks, and tape plastic insulation to the inside of especially drafty window panes.
Also, be sure all your doors leading outside have a storm door installed between them and the outdoors to further seal drafts. And if you use a window air-conditioning unit, remove it for the winter and close up the space. A lot of cold air can sneak in through these units.
3. Add More Insulation Upstairs
As heat rises, it’s important to realize that heat is escaping your home through the roof. Slow this down by loading up insulation in your attic floor and basement ceiling. If you can, add more insulation to your walls. This makes a big difference in your heating savings.
4. Turn Down the Water Heater
Turning down the temperature on your hot water not only saves on the cost to heat water, but it also prevents accidental burns to children. Consider setting your water heater at 120 degrees instead.
5. Leave Your Ceiling Fans On, But…
I love my ceiling fans. They are critical to keeping the house cooler in the summer, but they are also valuable in cutting heating costs in the winter — they just need a change in direction. Counter-clockwise rotation is ideal for producing cool air in hot weather, but when it’s cold outside, change your fan to run clockwise. It pulls up the warm air and better circulates it around your room.
6. Only Heat Rooms You Use
Are there rooms in your house that you just don’t use that much, maybe a laundry room or a guest room? Close the heat vents and the doors to stop wasting energy heating those rooms. In my house, I cut off part of the house with a ceiling-to-floor, heavy-duty curtain about halfway down a hallway. This redirects the majority of the heat to the bedrooms, family room, main bathroom, and kitchen, leaving the laundry room, a second bathroom, and the area by the back door unheated. There’s a definite difference in the heating bill.