How to Save Money and Stay Warm in Your Waterloo Region Home This Winter
While a Waterloo Region winter brings the holidays, sweaters and scarves, and cozy nights curled up by the fire, this blustery season also brings higher heating costs. We are not into the coldest months of the year yet, but they are not too far away, and this year, with costs rising on all kinds of things, most people are looking for as many ways to save money as possible.
Want to know the cheapest ways to heat a home and how to make it as energy-efficient as possible? We’ve collected some of the best ways to keep your Waterloo Region home warm without breaking the bank.
Adjust Your Thermostat
Turning down a thermostat, particularly while you’re at work, sleeping, or on holiday, is the most obvious way to keep heating costs low. You will get a better night’s sleep, extend the life of your refrigerator (as it won't get too hot and have to work too hard) and even help you lose weight if you keep your thermostat below 65 degrees (by pushing your body to speed up its metabolism to control its temperature).
Without your pipes freezing, you can comfortably set your thermostat as low as 55 degrees while on holiday. For each degree that you lower your thermostat, you can expect to save 1 percent on your energy bill.
Another alternative is a smart thermostat for those of us who are more forgetful. A smart thermostat completely eliminates the human factor, allowing you to keep your home at a comfortable temperature all winter long without any effort on your part. They study your habits and change the temperature automatically to optimize productivity and savings.
Keep Heating Vents Clean and Dust Free
Another valuable recommendation is to keep your vents clean to reduce heating costs, which includes removing the dust that inevitably accumulates (even if it's hard to see). Make sure that they are not blocked by furniture or rugs if they are on the floor. This will prevent your heater from working overtime or only sending heat to one portion of your house.
If you haven't tried cleaning the air vents in your home for a while, or are not sure th best way to do so, calling in a professional now before the busy winter season can often be the best idea. However, if you would like to do-it-yourself, this video might be extremely helpful:
In spaces you don’t use often, make sure to close the vents as well as shut the door to those rooms. To prevent warm air from leaving areas of the house you want warm, you can go one step further and block the bottom of the door to unused rooms. Another simple and inexpensive way of redirecting heat to your ideal living space is through air return vent covers.
Profit from Your Fireplace
Wood burning fireplaces are one of the easiest ways to help heat a house, if you are lucky enough to have one. While building a fire can be a cheaper and relatively efficient way to heat much of your house, be sure to keep the damper closed if you don’t use your fireplace.
Leaving the damper open is like leaving a wide open 48-inch window during the winter, and can add up to hundreds of dollars each winter in energy costs.You must also ensure that your chimney is clean before lighting the first fire of the season, and again this is a great time to do that, before all of the professionals are booked solid for the winter!
Check Door and Window Seals
If your window and door frames are poorly sealed, they will allow heat to escape and cold air to seep in. If you’re not sure if your windows and doors are too drafty, keeping a candle near the frame and watching to see if it flickers is an easy way to check. If and when you do find any air leaks, add weather stripping rubber to large gaps and fill with caulk in smaller areas.
Roll up a hand towel and position it at the base if warm air escapes through gaps under your doors that weather stripping cannot be used on. You could even make a DIY draft snake if you are crafty.
Quick Seal Your Windows
In addition to the advice in the last point, you might also want to consider 'quick-sealing' your windows for the winter.
Dead air is a very effective insulator, and you can create a pocket of it by installing clear plastic film across the inside of your windows. Available in kits that contain plastic film and double-sided tape, the plastic becomes nearly invisible when you heat it with a blow-dryer. If you find it unsightly, place the film on windows and patio doors selectively or only in unused rooms.
Measure your window before buying; kits vary in size, and they work only with wood, aluminium and vinyl-clad moulding. Payback is fast on this inexpensive technique, because heat lost through windows accounts for 10 to 25 percent of your overall heating bill.
If you can rattle your windows, they're letting a lot of heat escape around the frames. Seal the open spaces with puttylike rope caulk before shrink wrapping. Press-in-place rope caulk is mess-free and easy to use, and removing it in the spring is a cinch. But be sure to do a thorough window-sealing and caulking job before next heating season rolls around.
Dress Warmer and Get Better Bedding
Since keeping ourselves comfortable is the reason we turn up the heat, it makes sense to lower the temperature on your thermostat and simply wear some warmer clothing. You don’t have to wear a parka around the house, but put on a sweater and some wool socks, or buy a soft, fuzzy bathrobe for yourself this winter, to wear while you’re padding around the house. You could even opt for one of those fun – and cozy – adult onesies.
By ensuring that your bedding is up to standard, you can also stay warm at night. Down-filled duvets are very effective. A filling power of 600-plus is the warmest choice, and a duvets' fill-power can be found on the label or tag.
Reverse Your Ceiling Fan
Some may think that ceiling fans are only for the summer to keep cool, but in the winter they can also be the cheapest way to help heat a home more efficiently. It will force rising warm air to the ceiling to be spread down the walls and back to the floor if you set your fan to rotate clockwise at a low velocity. This will make a space feel warmer, allowing you to decrease the temperature of your thermostat and save on heating bills.
It is easy to reverse the direction of your ceiling fan, as most ceiling fans include wall or remote controls which make it as easy as pressing a button. A toggle switch should be located on the motor housing below the blades if your fan does not come with one of these controls.
Use Window Treatments Wisely
Keep your blinds open on sunny winter days to allow direct sunlight to shine through your windows. This can be one of the most powerful ways to heat your house, not to mention that it’s totally free.
In fact, this approach is referred to as passive solar heating and can be maximized if materials such as tile, wood, steel, concrete, or any other material that can serve as a heat sink during warmer months and a heat source during colder months are present in your home.
It can also help to minimize heating costs by knowing the correct times to keep your blinds or curtains closed. Closing your blinds and curtains will help retain heat on cloudy days or when the sun goes down, by serving as an insulator between the cold glass and the space you are trying to keep warm.