Winter’s in full swing and with temperatures on the decline around the country, there’s one thing undoubtedly on the rise: energy bills. In fact, heating costs account for roughly 29 percent of annual household energy use.
It makes sense. When it’s a frigid, snowy disaster outside, it can be tempting to crank up the heat and create an island oasis in your living room. But the truth is, that’s neither cost-effective nor eco-friendly.
So to help keep your wallet (and Mother Nature) happy, we’ve compiled a few simple ways to keep your winter heating in check, without sacrificing comfort or sanity.
4 tips to heat your home for less
1. Clean filters frequently
Filters and vents help appliances run efficiently, so when they’re dirty or clogged, the machine has to work harder (and use more energy) to run.
Additionally, furnace filters should be cleaned or replaced every 1 to 3 months to avoid overworking your furnace. You’ll cut down the energy needed to heat your home, and could save anywhere from 5 to 15 percent on your bill.
2. Wrap your windows
When I lived in my first apartment, I remember my confusion when my landlord called in early November asking if I’d “wrapped my windows” yet. Of course, after some explaining, it made total sense. Houses can lose a lot of heat through windows, especially older buildings with outdated or original windows.
A quick and cheap fix is to use plastic wrap to cover the entire window from the inside, keeping the cold air out. More elegant solutions include window-insulating kits and heavy curtains.
And if you’ve got the extra cash, consider updating old windows with triple-pane windows. They cost more up front, but could reduce heating costs by 2 to 3 percent each year.
3. Bring out the blankets
Now, I’m not suggestion you risk hypothermia in your living room, but easily accessible blankets might make you think twice before reaching for that thermostat.
A good rule of thumb is to set your thermostat to 68 degrees Fahrenheit when you’re home (or even lower if you’re sleeping), and drop it as low as 58 degrees when you’re away to avoid wasting energy on an empty house. Remember, it’s always more cost-effective to add layers before cranking up the heat.
4. Keep fans running
It may seem counterintuitive to run your fan in cooler temps, but Consumers Energy recommends keeping fans on a low setting in order to circulate the heat that rises to the ceiling. Make sure the fan’s rotating clockwise, pulling cool air up while forcing warmer air around the room.
If you’re interested in learning more about reducing your energy usage (and your monthly bills), see how efficient your home is by visiting EnergyStar.gov.