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How to Keep Your House Warm Without Breaking the Bank

How to Keep Your House Warm Without Breaking the Bank

Keep Your House Toasty Warm Without Breaking the Bank

Baby, it's cold outside! As the temperatures continue to drop over the next couple weeks around much of the world, we start to take to our indoor spaces a little bit more. We have an excuse to stop raking the leaves and working on the house. We break out the board games and blankets, and settle in. It seems cozy, and for a tiny second, we're kind of glad it's cold outside. And then we get the heating bill.

It seems like a lose-lose situation: turn down the heat and freeze or turn it up and watch your wallet get whupped. However, there's a number of little measures you can take to keep your heating costs low while staying toasty warm.

What You Can Do Right Now:

  1. Programmable Thermostat

    • Consider investing in a programmable thermostat. Many energy providers offer free programmable thermostats to their clients (residential or commercial) in exchange for the ability to slightly adjust your settings at peak hours. Different companies offer different free thermostat programs. Programmable thermostats allow you to set the thermostat to different levels for different times of day. If your region becomes bitterly cold during the winter months, you'll want the house to be nice and warm, but if you work for 9 hours a day and there's no one home, setting the thermostat to turn down 5 degrees from the time you leave until half an hour before you get home could save money. Why spend money heating up an empty house?

  2. Turn the Heat Down

    • Even if you don't have a programmable thermostat, try turning the heat couple degrees lower than you normally keep it at. If you wake up to a cold house one morning, it's tempting to crank the thermostat way up. Consider turning it up just a couple degrees. Wait and see how that goes. Oftentimes you won't notice the difference of a degree or two. If you do, try throwing on a sweater instead of turning up the thermostat again.

  3. Leave the Oven Open

    • This is one of those ridiculously simple tips: if you don't have young children that could be put at risk, consider leaving your oven open a crack as it cools down the next time you cook a meal. If you're already spending the money to pay for the energy to use the oven, don't trap the heat inside it when you're done. Open it up and let it warm up the kitchen.

  4. Know Your Fireplace

    • If your fireplace isn't being used, always keep the damper shut. A hole in your ceiling on a cold winter day doesn't do fabulous things for your heating bill. If you have doors on your fireplace and you decide to light a fire, remember to close them when your fire dies down. Don't close your damper before the embers have completely cooled, but shut the doors so the hot air stays in the house. If your fireplace doesn't have doors, reconsider lighting a fire on the coldest of days--if you can't shut the house off from the fireplace, all that toasty warmth will be sucked out the chimney as the fire dies.

  5. Open (and Close) Your Curtains

    • Nice thick curtains can help stop cold from completely penetrating a room--they act as another layer against the cold outside the windows. Keep your curtains shut if it's super cold in the evenings. During the day, if the sun is shining brightly, open them up and let the natural heat of the sun inside.

Check It Out This Weekend:

  1. Windows

    • Check the window casing on the inside of the house where the wooden frame that surrounds your window butts up against the drywall and the window. If there are cracks, put a line of caulking in each crack so cold can't come into the house at the joint.
    • Check your weatherstrip and replace where needed. Check for a tight seal wherever weatherstrip is located. There should be weatherstrip along the edges of the window channel, on all sides of the sash and especially where the operating sash opens and closes (bottom of moving sash if double or single-hung window, side of sliding sash on sliding window or three non-hinged sides of casement sash). The weatherstrip on this operating edge should be squeezed when the window is shut. Energy.gov resources on different types of weatherstrip

  2. Doors

    • Make sure that the door sweeps or bottoms are substantial and not torn or ripped. Commonly called door sweeps or door bottoms, these vinyl fixtures on the bottom of the door act as a weather-shielding barrier on doors that open to the outside. Over time, they can become ripped, loose and less effective. See our door bottom page for more information about replacing door bottoms and sweeps.
    • Check your weatherstrip and replace where needed. Just like window weatherstrip, there should be a tight seal wherever weatherstrip on the door is located. It should seal the gap around the door when it is closed.

  1. Attic

    • Check the insulation or get a professional to check the insulation. The attic is an easy place for cold air (and hot air in the summer) to enter the house. Energy Star, a program of the US Environmental Protection Agency and the US Department of Energy, reccomends visually inspecting your attic to determine whether you need more insulation: if you can see the floor joists, get some more; if you can't see the floor, you're probably alright.