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We can’t escape it—colder weather is coming. And, with fall and winter right around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about a few ways to keep your energy costs low. According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), home heating and cooling account for 56 percent of the energy use in the average U.S. home, making it the largest energy expense for most homeowners. So, what can you do?
We’re glad you asked! Making a few behavioral changes and—if the need arises—selecting energy-efficient appliance options can help reduce your heating bills, while still offering your family, house guests and friends ample comfort.
Hang insulated curtains.
Selecting insulated curtains—preferably those that include acrylic or high-density foam insulation and reflective film—for your home can help reduce drafts and heat loss. And, as an added benefit, insulated curtains can also help block sound. Once adorning the windows, make sure the curtains are open during the day to allow as much sun in as possible, and therefore, heat into the house. Draw the curtains at night to retain as much of the heat as possible.
Incorporate a direct-vent wall furnace.
Another option is to incorporate a natural-gas or propane fueled direct vent wall furnace—capable of heating up to 1,200 square feet of space. Direct vent wall furnaces differ from conventional heating systems because the units do not rely on ductwork to distribute heat. Instead, the furnaces operate by dispersing warm air directly from the base of the unit. This creates a more consistent and comfortable room temperature and reduces troublesome cold spots. Direct vent wall furnaces can also serve as a supplementary heat source for basements or rarely used spaces, such as guest rooms, therefore, reducing the demand placed on the central-heating system.
Incorporate ceilings fans.
Typically, individuals use fans to cool off, but by reversing the fan’s blades to a clockwise direction, hot air is forced downward towards the room. This creates a more comfortable environment with better heat circulation and assists in eliminating pesky hot and cold spots.
Close the fireplace damper.
A traditional fireplace should not be used as an extra heat source. A fireplace allows heated air to escape out of your home, causing your furnace to work overtime. Be sure to keep the fireplace damper closed—unless a fire is burning—as it also allows warm air to escape through the chimney. Finally, seal the opening of the fireplace if you don’t plan on using the fireplace at all.
Upgrade your water heater.
Sometimes the only thing that gets you out of your warm bed during the winter months is knowing that you have a hot shower waiting for you—but what if you didn’t? What if you got out of your warm bed and jumped into the shower only to learn someone used all the hot water? Not to mention heating water adds to what can be an already expensive energy bill during those colder months! And speaking of energy, water heaters are the second-largest energy user in homes and account for more than 14 percent of national residential energy consumption. If your home is equipped with a tankless water heater, running out is never a problem. Because tankless water heaters operate only when the need for hot water is detected and shut down when the demand for hot water ceases, they use less energy—in some cases up to 40 percent less energy—than tank-style water heaters and produce an endless supply of hot water.
Install a programmable thermostat.
A programmable thermostat allows you to “set it and forget it” based on your normal activity patterns and when you and your family are home. Per the DOE, turning your thermostat back 10 to 15 degrees for eight hours can save 5 to 15 percent a year on your heating bill.
Keep these practical tips in mind as winter approaches and enjoy the impact they have on both your wallet and your living spaces. Have other tips? Share them with us!