Heat Smart and Weatherproof Your House!
It seems to happen every year. One day you have a glass of lemonade in one hand and sunscreen in the other, and on what seems like the next day, those same hands are holding an ice scraper and a large heating bill that’s due next week.
For many of us, the ice scraper is a certainty. But there are ways to curb your heating bills and make them less disappointing. For instance, by increasing the energy efficiency of your home and “zone” heating the rooms where you spend the most time, instead of heating the entire house.
A simple approach to weatherproofing
Winter’s chill has a way of finding its way into our homes – most often through vulnerable areas like windows, doors and areas that aren’t always insulated well, like attics. Weatherproofing can be broken down into a few simple steps:
- Seal up areas that usher cold air into your house. Add insulation to your attic if needed and replace worn-out weather stripping around doors and windows. These are do-it-yourself projects that many of us can handle on our own
- Have your home’s heating system serviced and the ductwork cleaned are also important. You’ll likely need to hire professionals for these, but the improved efficiency of the entire system will make the minor investment well worth the cost
- Finally, install a programmable thermostat for your central heat system. Setting the temp lower during the day when you’re gone, and at night when you’re tucked under the comforter, can result in significantly lower heating bills. EnergyStar.gov says that the average homeowner can save about $180 a year by properly setting a programmable thermostat!
The concept of weatherproofing is simple – seal up those leaky areas and improve your home’s ability to retain heat.
Consider space heating with alternative fuel
A growing number of people are heating their homes by burning alternative fuels, like pellets, in free-standing stoves or fireplace inserts. For many, cost savings and a desire to use renewable fuels rather than fossil fuels have driven the trend. Pellets are harvested from wood that’s grown and harvested here in the U.S., so these folks are also helping to reduce our country’s dependence on foreign oil.
While it may not feasible to totally move “off the grid” and abandon central fossil fuel-fed furnaces, many people are heating large portions of their homes with pellet stoves. Similar to the concept of a hybrid car, the stove provides the primary heat with the furnace as a backup – working together to reduce heating bills and provide a more environmentally responsible outcome. Efficiencies can be gained by adjusting the central furnace temperature down 10 to 15 degrees. Today’s pellet stove technology is light-years ahead of what it was even 10 years ago, making heating with renewable fuel a practical option.
The ice scraper is inevitable for many of us, but it’s within our control to save money on heating bills. So, just to spite winter, set the mood by making yourself a tall glass of lemonade and lathering on some sunscreen before weatherproofing your house and ordering your new pellet stove or fireplace insert!