With oil topping $100 a barrel, and the cost of gas and electricity rising right along with it, everyone is looking for ways to conserve – and still stay comfortable – this winter. These common-sense strategies from energy experts won’t just keep your heating bills down, they’ll help the environment, too:
• Open the shades and curtains of windows on the south-facing side of your house during the day. Because the sun sits lower on the horizon during winter months, its light and heat reach deeper inside your house than during summer months when it sits directly overhead.
• Lock your windows. Not only does this provide security, it creates a more airtight seal.
• Use heavy or insulating shades or curtains and keep them drawn at night to keep the heat inside. Consider hanging blankets beneath the shades or curtains for even more insulation. Open all of these window coverings during the day, to let sunlight and the sun’s warmth in.
• If you feel drafts, staple sheets of plastic over the outside and/or inside of your windows. On the outside, you can nail thin pieces of wood around the edges of the plastic to better secure it.
Heaters and Thermostats
• Change or clean the filter on your furnace. To reuse a filter a couple more times before replacing it, vacuum it once a month and spray it with Endust or a similar product to keep it from attracting dust.
• Keep lamps away from your thermostat. If the thermostat senses heat from the lamp, this might change what triggers the heat to turn on or off.
• Consider heating just one room, nearest the kitchen. You can then concentrate your activities in these two rooms (the kitchen stove works as a heater itself, when you’re cooking). Close these rooms off with doors or hang blankets across entryways.
• Turn down the thermostat. Strive to live a couple of degrees below what you’ve been accustomed to. Dress in layers (wear sweaters, sweatpants and heavier socks for warmth). Turn the thermostat down even lower at night or when you’re away from the house.
• Close the damper on your fireplace when it’s not in use. You might even consider installing glass doors in front of the fireplace to close off any additional draft. The only exception is if you have installed gas-burning fireplace logs, which require that the damper always stay open.
And don’t close your damper until your fire is out and the ashes are cold; a still smoldering fire can release carbon monoxide, an invisible, odorless gas that can be fatal if inhaled for too long.