They’re out there . . . . . . . the winter lovers. Those that giggle and clap their hands with glee when snow is predicted, because “it’s just so pretty.” Those who can’t wait to build a fire in the fireplace, and snuggle up with the family, even enjoying the rosy chill on their cheeks while outside. They’re usually the same people who leave their Christmas lights up . . . and lit…. until April.
But if you are not one of “those” people, then you, like so many others, are doing all you can to stave off the cold until Spring’s thaw. And if you are not a lover of the cold, and if your house is an older one, (like mine!) you could have quite a battle on your hands.
Some swear by oil heat, others by natural gas, and many will try to convince you that switching over or replacing your home heating system is the only real way to save on home heating costs. But let’s be honest – that’s not always realistic for most people. While updating your home heating system, or pumping in insulation throughout your house walls, can definitely save you money in the long run, you must be able to shell out a large sum up front to get those savings. If that’s not in your budget, there are a lot of things you can do to save some heating bill money without doling out much, or even any, money yourself.
- 1. Start with the places where the cold is coming into your house in the first place. Few of us open our windows in the dead of winter, and you may have doors that are unused during the season, as well. If your curtains flutter whenever there is a breeze outside, or your feet freeze in place on the floor near a doorway, then these are areas to look at. Again, replacement is best, but if that is not in the budget, do the best with what you have. A can of silicone and a caulking gun are inexpensive, and can go a long way to keeping out the cold. So does window putty around the glass. Plastic sealant kits are also inexpensive, easy to install with only a hair dryer, and available at all local hardware stores. Cover up any drafty windows and doors . . . . the light will still be able to come in, but the draft won’t. Even the simple act of closing the curtains helps to keep out the draft. Use draft guards around doors. And don’t leave out the attic door! Just because it doesn’t lead outside doesn’t mean it isn’t letting in a draft. Heat rises, and attics can be very drafty. If you’re not going to be going in and out of the attic, cover that up as well.
- 2. Use that thermostat to your advantage! Don’t be afraid of it because it has all kinds of numbers and lights on it. Read the directions, which are more than likely posted right ON it, and get to know it. Befriend it. Use it. If it is programmable, great! Figure out how to program it so that you can keep the house cooler at night, when you are under the covers and don’t need a lot of heat circulating, and then to go on a half hour or so before you wake up, so that you won’t even need a moment of discomfort in the morning. If you’re more of a manual person, that’s OK, too. Just make it part of the nightly routine . . . check that the doors are locked, turn out the lights, turn down the thermostat . . . . (wait – you may want to turn down the thermostat BEFORE you turn out the lights, so you don’t subsequently stumble on the way to bed and teach the kids new words they really don’t need to know.) Then, in the morning, turn on the coffeepot, turn up the heat. (Unless everyone is leaving for work and school that day. In that case, they can wear a sweater for an hour while getting ready.) Keep the heat on during the day at about 68 degrees, assuming you will BE there to make it worthwhile, and about 60 at night. If that’s colder than you have been used to, don’t go cold turkey. (Pardon the pun.) Turn it down one degree at a time, and get used to it for a few days before turning it down a bit again. When the kids complain that they are cold, remind them that they have been wearing shorts and t-shirts. It’s winter. Wear winter clothes. God made long sleeved shirts and sweatshirts for just that reason. If you are going to be out of the house for a few days, leave the heat at 55. That will prevent pipes from freezing, without wasting unneeded heat. And do NOT believe the old wives’ tale that if you let the house get chilly, it then wastes more fuel by having to heat the house up again. In the long run, being vigilant about monitoring the thermostat will still be a big money saver.
- 3. Your kitchen can be your heating friend. Now, that does NOT mean you should leave a pot of boiling water on the stove for the evening, unless you want to wind up on the evening news, wrapped in blankets, sitting on the step of a fire truck, looking dazed and confused. Not good. But if you are using the oven, turn it off when you are done cooking, but leave the oven door open while it’s still hot. Same thing with boiling liquids . . . turn OFF the stove when done, but leave the boiled liquids on the stovetop for a bit when done. This can actually put a good bit of heat into your home.
- 4. Have a fireplace? Use it. It’s pretty, AND it provides heat. Even if it’s a gas or electric one. And if your family tends to converge into one living room or family room for most of the evening, turn the thermostat down early and use a space heater where you all are. (https://www.napavalley.com/) That will save you money, too.
- 5. Then there’s the million and one small obvious things. Use blankets. Or Snuggies, if you have no shame. Huddle together. Don’t leave the front door open to yell down the block to the kids as they are leaving for school. Dress appropriately. Put extra blankets on the bed. Exercise in the house more, because it warms you up as it slims you down. And have your furnace serviced once a year for maintenance . . . . just as having filters replaced in your car can give you extra mileage, doing the equivalent for your furnace can give you better heat.
We’ll get through this winter. We will. As of December 21, the days are getting a liiiiiiiiittle bit longer each day. Spring IS coming. Hold onto that hope – it will help to warm you! And try our 5 Tips To Save $ On Home Heating Costs !