Once the chilly winter weather arrives, there is nothing more relaxing than curling up in your cozy home with your nearest and dearest. In an attempt to stay warm, many Americans opt to crank up the heat when temperatures dip below freezing. However, this has some drawbacks; for one thing, it will result in higher utility bills. On average, Americans pay some $2,060 per year for utilities, and those who live in colder climates are bound to pay more for heating. Overheating your home can also lead to dry air, causing irritated skin and inferior air quality. What’s more, dry air can exacerbate respiratory issues like asthma. Instead of turning up the heat, adopt these tricks and tools to help you and your family stay toasty.
Put Your Ceiling Fan to Work
You might think your ceiling fan is useful only during the summer, but it can actually help keep you comfortable in winter. Warm air rises and accumulates at the ceiling. Switch on your ceiling fan so the blades spin clockwise and it will push the trapped warm air up and then down along the walls, circulating it throughout the room more efficiently. This simple trick can reduce heating costs by as much as 10 percent. Just make sure to clean off the fan blades first; otherwise, dust that has accumulated after months of no use in the fall will end up in the air, potentially causing skin irritation and allergy flare-ups.
Seal Air Leaks at Windows and Doors
The chill that a draft brings into your home isn’t just uncomfortable, it’s also costing you money. Luckily, addressing the cracks that allow drafts to happen doesn’t take a lot of money. This Old House provides some handy tips for safeguarding both doors and windows. You can install a door sweep along the bottom of exterior doors or even simply roll up an old rug and place it snugly along the door’s bottom, for instance. If you have double-hung windows, engage the sash locks to close gaps and stick adhesive-backed foam weather stripping along the top edge of the upper sash. If you don’t plan to open the windows until spring, you can actually seal them shut temporarily using caulk.
Install Storm Doors
A storm door is similar to a screen door in its protective role except that it has double-paned glass where the screen would normally be. So, instead of safeguarding against bugs and other critters, it keeps out the cold. Having this extra barrier will also keep out wind, rain, and snow. Sunlight can still penetrate, however, giving your home some added warmth. A basic storm door goes for around $150; keep in mind that this is a one-time investment that will last you for many winters to come so while it might seem like an initial splurge, it will pay off in the long term. Home Depot has different models available for you to choose from.
Buy a Programmable Thermostat
A programmable thermostat allows you to specify times when the heating should go on and off. For example, you could set the heating to turn on shortly before you get up on a chilly winter’s morning and to turn off while you’re at work. WiFi-controlled thermostats even let you tinker with the temperature remotely via your smartphone or tablet. A programmable thermostat can save you approximately $50 to $100 on monthly heating.
With these helpful tools and tips, you will be able to stay warm this winter without getting a shock when you see your monthly heating bill. Such small investments in time, energy, and money will allow you to reap long-term rewards, as additions such as a storm door or programmable thermostat will serve you for multiple years. Meanwhile, you can enjoy winter knowing you always have a cozy house to come back to.
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