Winter has officially been here for just over a month now. Depending on where you live, it may not have felt like winter until recently or it may have felt like it arrived weeks earlier than the official Winter Solstice.
No matter where you fall on the "feels like winter" scale we have a few suggestions on way to winterize your home and/or save a little money on your energy bills.
First and foremost, check the filter on your furnace and change (or clean) it if it needs it. This is something you should check regularly. Start now, and get on a six month schedule checking your filter. A great rule of thumb and reminder is to check your filter at the same time you check the batteries in your smoke detectors. Oh, and if you haven't checked or changed those lately... Go do it right now! Changing or cleaning your filter will ensure your furnace is working most efficiently. If your filter is dirty you are over-working the furnace and paying extra money every month--for no reason.
While we are on the topic of your furnace, let's talk about the thermostat. Do you change the programming from summer to winter? Do you even have a programable thermostat or do you still have a dial you have to manually turn up and down? If the latter is the case, now is the time to invest in a programmable thermostat. You don't have to spend a lot of money on one and the money you will save by not heating your home as much when you are away will easily offset the cost. If you already have a programmable thermostat you should take a minute to look at the schedule and temps you have set. The settings you use during the summer are likely not the same as the ones you would prefer in colder months. Adjusting the times or temps by and hour or a degree will save you money through the winter months. Don't forget to adjust the schedule and temps again in the spring/summer.
For additional savings on your heating bill remember to open any curtains during the day on any South or West facing windows. This will allow the afternoon sun to keep your home warmer. Combined with the schedule on your thermostat, this keep your furnace from kicking on more often throughout the day when you are away from home. Remember to close the curtains when you get home as an extra layer of protection keeping the warmth in and the evening cold out.
Even if your entry doors look like they make a sufficient seal between your home and the weather outside, chances are you get a draft underneath the door. A simple and inexpensive door draft blocker will help stop the cold air from entering your home. If you are looking to save even more money, a quick Google search will give you many ways to create your own draft blocker for little to no money using things you already have.
Do any of the rooms in your home have a ceiling fan? Did you know there is a correct direction the fan should spin depending on the season? During the warmer months of the year you want the fan spinning forward to create the cool breeze you want from the fan. However, during cooler months you should reverse the direction of the fan to help better circulate the warm air in your home. As with many of these tips, remember to switch it back in the spring or summer to maximize effectiveness.
Our last tip moves to the outside of your home. Many newer homes and businesses install heating coils at the edge of the roof. This helps melt the snow on your roof and prevent ice dams from forming in and ruining your rain gutters. A quick and less expensive option if you do not already have these is heat tape. You'll need an outside electrical outlet to utilize heat tape, but if you have one, this is a great and less expensive way to melt the snow from your roof and prevent ice dams from forming.
These are just a few ways to save money through the colder winter months. Most take little to no time but will help your home stay warm throughout the winter while saving you some money. Money you can put toward that spring or summer vacation you're planning.