Staying Warm this Winter
Whether you heat with electricity, gas, oil, or propane, keeping your home warm and comfortable - while keeping costs low – is everyone's goal. Here are a dozen "Unique" ideas you can use now.
- Help your heating system run at peak efficiency by having it serviced every year.
This is the single best investment you can make, with the cost for an average service call to clean the equipment and changes filters usually running at $110 or less.
- Have a programmable thermostat installed.
For a relatively small investment, you can program these "smart" devices to maintain lower temperatures while you’re asleep or away, and save as much as 30% for home that's well insulated.
- Weather strip your doors and windows.
This is an "afternoon project" that pays big dividends. If your home has drafts, you could save as much as 20% on the costs of wintertime heating with an investment of just $30 or so.
- Change-out or clean your air filters regularly.
Also clean the return grills and supply registers, because the dust that accumulates there restricts the airflow and causes utility costs to rise.
- Keep your fireplace dampers in the "closed" position when you're not using them.
This prevents warm air from escaping out your chimney, and prevents drafts and cold spots.
- Add ceiling fans.
When it's cold outside, they keep warm air circulating, so you make the most of all of the heat energy inside your home.
- Do some easy re-decorating.
Is there furniture blocking your baseboards or registers? A quick re–arranging will help your system perform more efficiently.
- Consider a tankless water heater.
Hot water on demand is an idea that Chicagoland homeowners have turned to in big numbers. The average time to recoup the cost of a tankless heater is three years. The savings after that are substantial, and go right in your pocket.
- Improving or replacing windows will help you stay warm this winter - and cool next summer.
First, apply weather-stripping to seal cracks. Where practical, replace old windows with double-pane (thermopane) glass. The statistics on these are stunning. Energy efficiency in a home can be improved up to 70% with a high R-value window.
- Insulate your attic. The best and least expensive thing you can do!
Warm air rises, and good insulation will keep valuable heat energy in your home, where it belongs, rather than escaping through the attic.
- But before you do that …
Look for areas on the existing fiberglass insulation that appear stained with black. What you're seeing is dust, and it’s telling you where the air is flowing up from your living areas. If you seal those areas first, you'll get even greater benefit from adding new insulation.
- Look for the Energy Star label on the appliances you buy.
The best brands in furnaces and air conditioners have earned the Energy Star rating, and many other types of home equipment, from computers to dishwashers, have as well. According to the US EPA, energy efficient choices can save families about a third on their energy bill, with similar savings of greenhouse gas emissions, without sacrificing features, style or comfort.
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