Baltimore winters can be bitterly cold, and keeping your home warm in freezing temperatures may be a constant struggle, especially if you live in an older house. With the price of energy constantly on the rise, finding ways to stay warm at lower thermostat settings can go a long way toward reducing your heating load while maintaining a high level of comfort on even the coldest of days. These tips will help you stay warm while saving money on energy costs this winter.
Have Your Heating System Tuned Up
The number one way to increase your comfort and reduce your energy bills at the same time is to have your furnace or heat pump tuned up at the beginning of the heating season. After working hard to keep you warm last winter, your system is probably lacking efficiency due to dust buildup inside, loosened connections, and other normal wear that takes a toll on its energy efficiency and heating power. The annual tune-up is designed to restore the efficiency of the system through a number of tasks, including tightening gas and electrical connections and belts, measuring the airflow and air temperature, and lubricating the moving parts to prevent friction.
Loose joints can result in the loss of up to 40 percent of the warm air that moves through the ductwork. This means that not only are you losing out on all that heat, but your system also has to work harder to compensate, meaning you're paying more for heating your home. Seal loose duct joints with metal tape or mastic sealant. Don't use duct tape, which deteriorates quickly.
Insulate the portions of ductwork that move through unconditioned spaces like the attic to keep the air inside warm as it moves through. Insulation will also help prevent water damage and mold growth from condensation.
Seal Air Leaks
Cold air that infiltrates the home through leaky doors and windows makes your heating system work overtime to compensate. Seal around doors and windows with caulk, and install weatherstripping between components that move. Attach door sweeps to the bottoms of exterior doors and cover older windows with plastic to keep warm air inside and cold air out.
Stay Warm at Lower Thermostat Settings
For every degree you set back the thermostat for a period of eight hours or more, you can save up to 2 percent on heating costs. This can add up to considerable savings, especially if you have a programmable thermostat and have it set back 10 to 15 degrees while you're at work or asleep. When you're at home, keep the thermostat set to 68 at the highest, and use these tips to stay warm:
- Bundle up. Thermal underwear, thick socks and a lightweight knit sweater will keep you toasty warm at lower thermostat settings. Wrap up in a blanket while you're watching TV or doing other stationary activities.
- Move around. If you're shivering, do some physical activity to get your blood moving and heat up your body instead of turning up the thermostat. Jumping jacks, a run on the treadmill, or moderate house cleaning will have you working up a sweat in no time, and will contribute to overall good health.
- Sip hot liquids. A cup of hot tea with honey or a mug of steaming cocoa will heat up your hands and make you feel warmer.
- Reverse the direction of ceiling fan blades. Reversed ceiling fans kept on the lowest setting will push warm air near the ceiling back down and send it to the far corners of your room for more comfort at lower thermostat settings.
Use Heat-Generating Appliances
Household chores can go a long way toward keeping your home warm in freezing temperatures. On particularly cold days, put a roast in the oven or a pot of stew on the stove and let the escaping heat warm your kitchen and adjoining rooms. Keep the door to the laundry room open while you're drying clothes to allow the residual heat to increase your comfort.
Improve Attic Insulation
The attic is the coldest room in your home during the winter. Keeping your home warm in freezing temperatures is partly a matter of ensuring you have adequate attic insulation. Strive for 12 to 15 inches of R-38 insulation to keep your home toasty.
For more expert tips on keeping your home warm in freezing temperatures, please feel free to contact us in the Baltimore area at Griffith Energy Services, Inc.