Start winterizing early to maximize savings this fall and winter
It’s no news that your heating bills will see an increase come winter time. In many parts of the country, families begin to see price surges as early as autumn. What you may not know, however, is how much you and your family can save by taking the time to fully winterize the home. You can turn a big undertaking into a series of simple upgrades by starting your efforts now. A few weekends into the fall and you’re likely to already recognize a difference in the performance of your household.
According to data collected by the National Association of Realtors, improving insulation alone can reduce your heating bills by 20 percent during cooler months. Consider how much more you could save by winterizing the home from top the bottom. Making smart, cost-effective improvements will help you maximize reductions your heating bills while simultaneously earning back your investment. Deploy the following strategies to get your home ready for winter weather.
Automation can help you make even better use of programmable thermostats.
Manage the flow of heat
The flow of air in and out of your home also dictates the path that heat takes as it moves from one room to the other. Steady, efficient heat flow requires that the air moving through the home does so uninhibited. That’s why maintenance chores like replacing your home’s furnace filter are so important. Furthermore, you can control heat flow within each using your overhead fans. According to Popular Mechanics, setting fans to spin clockwise draws air into the center of the room and helps interiors to retain heat, reducing heating bills by up to 10 percent.
Check for drafts and seal off leaks
One of the biggest projects you’ll want to complete as you winterize your home is the sealing of your home’s entrances, windows and leaks. As the temperature drops, the warm air supplied to your home by the furnace naturally begins to flow to the outdoors. Sealing your home makes it more difficult for heat to escape and prevents cold drafts from making your interior spaces uncomfortable.
Start by installing weather stripping around the home’s doors and windows, where air is prone to escape through cracks around the frame. Leaks caused by damage to interior walls can be sealed up by caulk or another type of sealing material. Once you’ve sealed up the most common leak locations, inspect light fixtures, power outlets and plumbing for drafts as well.
Adjust the water heater
While most water heaters are set to about 140 degrees Fahrenheit, the can actually operate at 120 degrees without a perceptible change in performance. Stepping down into your basement or into the maintenance closet to adjust your furnace will just take a few minutes, but the positive impacts will last until next spring. Simply lowering the standing temperature of your water heater will help to lessen energy consumption by a noticeable margin. You can save even more energy by making a few adjustments to the family’s weekly habits. Shortening shower times, for example, will help to reduce the extra furnace fuel burned to keep water at a comfortable temperature during winter weather.
“Save even more energy by adjusting the family’s weekly habits.”
Invest in a programmable thermostat
Being able to control the temperature of your interior, even when nobody’s home, is a powerful tool. You can cut your heating bill down considerably by investing in a programmable thermostat that warms the home before you arrive but keeps the house cool while family members are at work or school. Putting plenty of care into your thermostat schedule will ensure that the transition from cool to livable temperatures goes completely unnoticed by members of your family.
This strategy ensures that you don’t waste money and fuel heating your home while no one is in it, just to make sure the interior is toasty when you finally arrive. Alternatively, process of turning the heat all the way off and turning it on again later is extremely inefficient. Homeowners are better off scheduling their AC systems to shift between two preset temperatures.
Inspect and upgrade insulation
Focus on insulation once the rest of your home has been sealed and repaired. You can go online to research how much R-value your home should have based on your region of the country. Once you have a baseline for insulation, reach out to a contractor and see if you can find out how much protection from the cold your interior walls already have. Many insulation materials can be layered over one another, and taking this approach will help you get your R-value up to par without paying for the full cost of a renovation. In cases where new insulation is inevitable, investing in high-end products like spray foam insulation will actually help to improve energy efficiency all year round.