I love fall with it's colorful leaves (especially the bright reds), visits to the apple orchards, college football games, and the smell of fires in fireplaces. However, it's not my favorite season, because I dread the ensuing coldness of winter.
I know it's going to get cold (at least in MI), so what can I do to stay warm without a huge energy bill? Check out these tips to help you reduce your heating costs, including:
Winterize your home
Walk around your home checking for drafty doors, windows, fireplaces, etc. If you feel drafts add caulk or weatherstripping, or consider adding the plastic sheets over drafty windows. You may also want to think about increasing your insulation or replacing really drafty windows in the future (once you can budget for the expense).
Install/Use a Programmable Thermostat
If you have a regular schedule away from your home, a programmable thermostat will save you money by automatically lowering the temperature of the house when you are not home. When my husband and I both worked outside the home, we used this all the time. We even used it at night...we'd let the heat drop to 60 and then program it to warm back up to 68 before we got out of bed. We don't do that anymore, though, since my boys don't always stay under their blankets very well (especially when they were little).
Lower the Temperature
Experiment with how low you can set the thermostat without getting a chill. We generally keep our thermostat at 68 during the winter. We dress for winter (pants, long sleeve shirts, and slippers...since we have cold hardwood floors), and keep blankets on the couches. Although it's not toasty warm, it works for us (and our wallet).
Use a Space Heater
If your family is congregating in one room, consider using a space heater to warm up that room. You probably want to choose a space heater that is energy efficient, or you'll lose your gas savings with a higher electricity bill. If you have young kids, you also want to be careful about how hot the space heater will become, in case they touch it. You also want to make sure that any space heater has fire safety precautions.
Use your Fireplace
If you have a wood or gas-burning fireplace, use it when you are congregated in that room. Not only is the ambience nice, but it will also heat up the room.
Run your Ceiling Fan
If you have a ceiling fan in a room with a fairly high ceiling, set the fan to a clockwise rotation during the winter to force any hot air that has risen to the ceiling back down to the lower parts of the room.
Let in the sun during the day
Open up any curtains and blinds during the day to let the sun naturally warm up your home.
Use your oven to Cook
In the heat of summer, no one wants to turn on the oven in the hot kitchen. But, in the winter, using the oven to cook can help heat up your home. However, for safety reasons you don't want to use your oven solely to heat your home.
Maintain your Furnace
Make sure you change the filters on your furnace and get a regular furnace cleaning to keep it from overworking or working inefficiently.
How do you save money on heating costs during the winter? What temperature do you keep your thermostat set during the winter?