By Brentnie Daggett
Year after year, many homeowners find themselves surprised when their first heating bill arrives. The frugal-minded tend to turn to extra blankets and multiple layers in lieu of paying expensive heating bills, but at the end of the day, you should be comfortable in your own home.
With a little knowledge and a few behavior tweaks, you can heat your home much more efficiently, without sacrificing your comfort or your hard-earned paycheck:
Turn down the temperature.
The U.S. Department of Energy recommends setting your winter thermostat to 68 degrees while you're awake, and setting it lower while you're asleep or away from home. You can save up to 10 percent a year on heating (and cooling) costs by simply turning your thermostat back anywhere from 7-10 degrees for approximately eight hours a day, like while you're at work or sleeping.
Change your filters.
Dirty air filters restrict airflow and increase your energy use. Changing the filters on your furnace or heating unit at least every three months can save you anywhere from 4-6 percent a year on heating costs! If you have pets in your home, your filters are probably even dirtier—changing them once a month is recommended. Taking this step will not only save you money, but also likely prolong the life of your furnace. Be sure to regularly service your furnace to make sure things are running properly.
Seal cracks and ducts.
Windows and doors account for a large amount of heat loss in homes; in fact, installing weather-stripping or caulking leaky doors and windows can save you up to 10 percent on heating costs. Ducts are another culprit of heat loss—leaking ductwork accounts for 25-30 percent of heating costs in the average home. Consider hiring a contractor before the cold weather hits to test the tightness of your ducts and repair any leaks or restrictions.
Keep your chimney closed.
If your home has a fireplace, remember to keep the damper closed when it's not in use. Consider a chimney balloon—an inflatable device that goes in the chimney—to further keep the cold air out and the warm air from escaping.
Use your fan.
While ceiling fans are excellent tools for staying cool in the summer, they can also be adjusted to help you stay warm in the winter. Many fan models have a switch that allows the blades to spin clockwise, which will push warm air that rose to the ceiling back down into the room.
Brentnie Daggett is a writer and infographic master for the rental and property management industry. She loves to share tips and tricks to assist landlords and renters alike. To learn more about Daggett, and to discover more great tips for renters, visit www.rentecdirect.com.