I always feel that winter is around the corner when daylight savings time disappears in November, do you? Here in Ontario, we’ve been experiencing lower than normal temperatures this week and along with no sunshine for nearly two weeks, it’s a pretty good indication winter is on its way.
I bought my house last year about this time and because of an upcoming surgery, didn’t get to do much preparation for winter and was very thankful for a mild winter last year. The house inspection I had done showed there was less than minimal insulation in the attic and even less in the crawl space. I knew I had some work to do in order to survive our usual winters. Luckily, the government was offering a home winterization program that required an energy audit to be performed before doing any repairs so that was my first step. After getting the reading from the audit, I could go ahead with improvements to save me money on utility bills. The audit showed different areas where I could be reimbursed for updates I did. The obvious first step was to have insulation put in the attic and then blown into the crawl space. But, if your home already has these things in place, there are still other things you can do to help reduce your heating bills.
Home Winterization Tips
More Than Minimal Savings
Are you aware that drafts can waste 5% to 30% of your energy use? Here’s an easy and inexpensive way to remedy this problem. Adopting an idea from the Depression era, use a “draft snake” which you can make yourself. The easiest way is to roll a towel up and place it in front of a drafty door. To add some decoration to this, take an old necktie or scraps of material, glue on some googly eyes and add a red tongue, then fill with kitty litter or sand to add heft to it.
Pick one day of the month and mark it on your calendar and then change your furnace filter on that date throughout the winter. Dirty filters restrict air flow and increase energy demand. Reversing the blades on your ceiling fans can cut your energy costs by 10%. That’s a pretty good savings just for pushing that little switch. Not sure which direction you need for winter? Blades needs to run counter-clockwise to cool your room and clockwise to warm it; this returns the air pooled next to the ceiling back into the room.
Big Bank For The Buck
Conventional water heaters are usually set to 140⁰F by the installer. Lowering the setting to 120⁰F (or lower) can reduce your heating costs by 6% – 10%. By simply adding a storm door to your home you can increase your energy efficiency by 45%, sealing drafts and reducing air flow. For every degree you reduce your thermostat, you save between 1% and 3% of your heating bill. The easiest way to assure this is done when no one is home and when you’re sleeping is to invest in a programmable thermostat. For an approximate $50 investment, an average family will save around $180 a year.
There are many other little things that can be done to help save on your heating costs but these are several fairly inexpensive ways to put some money back in your pocket. And don’t forget that these not only help with costs in the winter but also in the summer when you run the air conditioner. To possibly put a little more money in your pocket, be sure to check and see if there are any grants offered in your area or look into tax breaks or incentives. For state by state offers in the U.S., one site to check is http://energy.gov/savings. In Canada, there are many provincial tax credits and I encourage you to visit your individual provincial sites to check for rebates and credits and don’t forget to check with your local power and heating companies for their offers.
Do you have any special home winterization tips? I’d love to hear your ideas.
Mary Cunningham would never claim to be a financial expert but has worked in the area of finance with personal taxes for over 15 years. Those personal taxes included all personal aspects, rental property and small businesses. She will be offering some Canadian insight to this venture but she came to live in Canada by way of Kentucky.