Shoo away those winter chills with a few frugal tips to help keep your heating bills down and the temperature inside your home at a comfortable level.
Lately, as you walk through various rooms in your home, you may have noticed drafty cold spots. Perhaps near an older door that you may not use very often or windows that you haven't gotten around to replacing.
- Clear Tape works wonders in sealing around the edges of unused Doors and doorways, (such as an extra bedroom no longer in use, etc) The tape removes easily in the spring, prevents cold air from blowing in and is virtually invisible.
- Keep in mind when you turn on your bathroom fan that you are essentially sucking heat right out of your home. If you don't like your bathroom mirror steamed up after a shower, simply turn a hair dryer on for a minute or two and "dry" your mirror. It will dry the steam streak free, avoiding unnecessary heat loss from the fan. The extra moisture in the air from the shower will help add some humidity.
- Window Covering Kits work wonders for sealing out the drafty air. Not sure whether your windows need to be covered; simply light a candle and hold it near the edge of the window, if the flame flickers or goes out, chances are you need to cover the window with plastic. While heavy curtains are great during the evening and at night, allowing the sunshine in during the day will warm your home.
- Electrical outlets in your home frequently allow in cold drafts of air. A great inexpensive way to block this cold air in un-used outlets is to plug in child safety plugs.
- Also, Electrical outlet covers can be removed and insulated with a piece of thin foam (much like the foam craft sheets) to prevent cold air from coming in around the edges. If you don't think the outlets let cold air in, I challenge you to hold your hand over one on a chilly day!
- If you have a basement, be sure it is insulated in cracks and crevices. While it may seem expensive to buy a roll or two of insulation, you will save literally hundreds of dollars per year with the investment. Get in those hard to reach places with a can of expanding insulation foam.
- If you don't have a basement or if you have a slab foundation, insulate around the base of your home with bales of hay or garbage bags full of leaves (an excellent use for the fall bounty that falls on your lawn each year). This extra barrier will help keep the wind from penetrating under your home and help fight off the winter cold. If hay or leaves are not available to you and you already have snow, shovel it up against the base of your home to create a layer of insulation.
- If your home has Ceiling fans, be sure to set the in the "Up" (or clockwise) position during the winter months. This allows the warm air that has collected to push to the outside walls, distributing the heat down evenly.
- Preheat your Bed before jumping in at night by creating a Rice Heating Pad. Simply warm your heating pad in the microwave for 2-3 minutes, toss in your bed and wait 5 minutes before climbing in.
- Check the duct work in your home, they may be crushed, dented, flattened, torn, etc. Be sure that the cracks and crevices at the joints are properly sealed, ensuring that the heat is not spilling out into your attic or walls. If your clothes dryer is vented outside, don't forget to make sure that a dryer vent seal is properly installed to prevent cold air from blowing in the duct, into your home. (This will also help prevent unwanted rodent problems!)
- Cover those drains! Have you ever accidentally stepped over the drain in your shower in the middle of winter, only to feel like you stepped in a snow bank? When your sink, tub and shower drains are not in use keep them covered. For less than $1 you can purchase a rubber drain cover at the hardware store.
- Change your Furnace filter monthly. Low cost filters are available at the hardware store. You will greatly increase the heater's efficiency by creating proper airflow. In addition, to make your home smell great, you can add a couple drops of essential oil such as peppermint, clove, cinnamon, etc to the filter. Each time the furnace kicks on the whole house will have the scent you applied to the filter.
- Remember to turn back your thermostat at night. By turning your thermostat back 8º for 8 hours each night, you will reduce your annual heating bull by 10%. You can further save money by installing a programmable thermostat so you don't have to remember to do anything.
- Contact your Heating Fuel company and ask them if they offer any discounts- some offer senior citizens discounts, good customer discounts (if you pay on time), Large Tank fill discounts and more. It never hurts to ask
- Find a Fuel Co-Op in your Area- many areas offer a fuel co-op to gain access to majorly discounted oil rates, so for a $20-$25 up front fee, you could save upwards of 20% off your annual heating expenses
- Use a Humidifier, an increase in humidity will automatically make the air feel warmer.
- Use a can of expanding foam to fill in cut areas around pipes, like under your sink where the plumbing comes in, sealing off all of the gaps you you possibly can. Don't waste your
money with caulking, it will fall apart and crack, use the expanding foam, that's what it's for. Bonus- it blocks spots where mice could come in.
- Switch to flannel sheets and bedding
- Close Curtains and blinds at night to help keep out the cold and open them during the day to allow the sun in and warm the room naturally.
- If you have central heating or heating vents, make sure they are completely unobstructed by furniture or other objects. Dirty vents should be vacuum regularly to keep them free of dust, hair and other debris.
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