Fall is kicking into high gear and, before you know it, winter will be upon us.
Whether you love the winter months or spend them longing for the return of spring, there’s one thing that just about everyone can agree on — winter heating bills are rough.
For most of the United States, winter means cranking up the furnace and doing your best to stay warm without breaking the bank.
And if you live in an area that experiences extremely low temperatures, it’s a lot easier said than done!
Fortunately, there are things you can do to keep your home warm in the winter without raising your gas or electric bills.
For example, solar shades help block out the cold and prevent your furnace from having to work so hard to keep your home comfortable.
You can also tackle renovations like upgrading your windows, adding more insulation, and sealing gaps to stop drafts in their tracks.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the many ways to heat your home this winter without draining your bank account on your monthly gas or electric bill.
Upgrade Your Windows
According to a global study conducted by the United Nations, windows are a significant source of heat loss in homes (as well as commercial buildings).
In fact, your home’s windows could be responsible for up to 30% of your heating bill.
Inefficient windows let a lot of heat escape, and your furnace has to work hard to keep up with the loss.
Ideally, you should replace any windows that are more than 15 years old, show signs of damage, or feel cold in the winter and hot in the summer.
Upgrading to energy-efficient windows can significantly lower your energy bills while helping you stay warm and toasty all winter long by blocking out drafts and keeping warm air inside your home where it belongs.
Sometimes, Though, That Isn’t an Option.
If new windows are not in your budget this year, consider upgrading your window treatments.
Roller shades and thermal drapes do an excellent job of insulating windows and preventing heat loss.
If you prefer the look of sheer zebra shades or another style that does not offer a great deal of insulation, consider installing solar shades underneath to help keep your home warmer without sacrificing your style.
As a bonus, those solar shades will help keep your home significantly cooler in the summer, too.
Check Your Insulation
If it has been a while since the last time you checked out your home’s insulation, try to do so before winter rolls around.
Head up to your attic to look for any bare spots. Check your basement, too.
You can even check inside your walls by switching off the power, removing an outlet cover and using a flashlight to peer inside the wall.
Check around outlets on all floors of your home to determine if you have adequate insulation.
Adding insulation to your home is relatively easy — even for do-it-yourselfers.
If you are not confident in your abilities, though, it never hurts to consult with a pro.
They can also help you determine what type of insulation you currently have and what you need to add.
Close Vents in Unused Rooms
Do you have rooms in your home that you do not use?
If so, closing the air vents to that room can help lower your energy bills while keeping the rest of your home warmer.
If possible, seal the room off from the rest of your home. You don’t want the cold from this unused space to seep out and cause drafts in other rooms.
Just make sure not to close off too much space. Closing the vents in one or two rooms can help you save on your energy bills, but overdoing it could have the opposite effect.
Your HVAC system needs adequate airflow, so you shouldn’t restrict it to only heating one or two rooms.
If you have several areas in your home that you do not use, consider upgrading to a zone HVAC system.
These systems are designed to give you precise control over which rooms are heated and cooled, so they are an ideal solution when you don’t want to waste money heating rarely used spaces.
Make Sure Your Home Is Air Sealed
Gaps allow warm air to escape from your home, and no one likes the chilly drafts that enter around leaky windows and doors.
Checking your home for air leaks and sealing up any problems you discover is one of the most effective ways to keep your heating bill manageable without sacrificing comfort.
You could hire a professional to come in and seal your home, or you could save yourself a lot of money by tackling the project yourself.
ENERGY STAR has an easy-to-understand guide that will teach you how to seal your home and make it more energy-efficient.
Get a Programmable Thermostat
Adjusting the temperature inside your home by just a few degrees can have a tremendous impact on your gas or electric bill.
Turning it down a few degrees while you’re at work or asleep means your heating system won’t need to work as hard, which results in savings on your bill.
Unfortunately, remembering to adjust the temperature constantly is tricky. That’s where a programmable thermostat comes in handy.
With one of these, you can set different temperatures for different times of the day.
You’ll get to come home or wake up to a warm, toasty home without having to worry about high energy costs while you’re at work or asleep. It’s a win-win.
This winter, don’t sacrifice your comfort to keep your gas or electric bill manageable.
Try the suggestions above to beat the cold without driving up your bills. Combine a few different techniques to achieve the maximum benefit.