Monthly Archives: January 2017

Home Heating – How to Find More Money in Your Budget

Winter has a nasty reputation for devouring your home heating budget; but there are some things you can do (cheaply) that can cut that heating budget down to a comfortable size.

  • The simplest and most obvious thing is: replacing old, worn weather stripping. A ton weather-stripping1
    of heat escapes from your home though those seemingly small cracks or gaps. Weather stripping is surprisingly easy to install. Instead of turning up the heat, shut out the cold!

Some weather stripping needs to be replaced every few years
because of wear.

  • Check the bottom of your door (the threshold). If you see daylight, it is worn or out of whack and cold air is streaming into your home. If the threshold has leveling screws, adjust them to tighten up the gap. Make sure it is not rubbing against the weather stripping or it will get worn out.
  • Drafty electrical outlets. Especially if the outlet is in an exterior wall, it probably electric-outlet-coverdoesn’t have the insulation it needs to keep drafts out. To stop the leaks, remove the cover plates and fill small gaps around the boxes with acrylic latex caulk. If the gap is large, use foam sealant. Then place a foam gasket over the outlet or switch and replace the cover plate. The gaskets are very inexpensive & readily found at hardware stores.
  • Plug holes in exterior walls. Sometimes when contractors build homes or remodel the hole for pipes, cables and other lines may not be sealed up properly to prevent warm (or cool) air from leaking out. An expanding foam will seal up any opening, and will help keep critters out as well.
  • You may wish to invest in a portable heater. This gives you the option to turn the heat down in rooms you are not using, concentrating the heat in the rooms where you are. Did you know you can save 3% of your heating costs for every degree below 70°F? We can hear the pennies piling up now!
  • Fact: 25% of heat is lost through your windows. By covering the sliders and windows with plastic film, you can slow down that loss. The film is inexpensive & simple to put on your windows. It is easily removed.
  • If you’ve got a fireplace, the chimney may be robbing you of heat. They are beautiful and a must for Santa, but when there is no fire & even when the flue is closed, it’s easy access for heat to escape. You can buy something called a “chimney balloon” that blocks out a lot of the rising warm air. Follow the manufacturers’ directions.
  • Has your furnace had a once over lately? How about a visit from a chimney sweep?chimney-sweep Change that furnace filter at least twice a year. If you have a gas fireplace, cleaning the gas hearth will give you a much larger & warmer flame. There will be a little up-front cost to make sure everything is clean & ship-shape, but your energy bill will reflect the savings over time. An upside to preventative maintenance is; carbon monoxide problems can be identified & fixed.
  • Take a trip down to the basement or up to the attic to check the ductwork. Frequently, the ducts develop cracks or seam splits, allowing up to 30% of warm air to escape. Putting a mastic sealant or metal tape over the leaks will help.
  • Sunshine is free! If your windows face the sun, especially during the “heat” of the day- let the sunshine in to provide natural heat! Then close the curtains when that sunshine moves on to keep the heat inside. Why not let Mother Nature give you some heat instead of a power company?
  • Make sure nothing is blocking your heat registers. Give that warm air wide berth to spread the love!
  • Have you ever noticed that when you lock a door or window, the seal around it becomes even tighter? That means even less heat will escape – so lock ‘em up!
  • It might not have anything to do with heating, but here’s something that eats up your energy budget: your electronics. TV, cell phones, computers, etc. all have plug-ins of some sort either for usage or recharging. When they are not actively being used, they are still sucking up energy, even on standby. If you can “unplug when not in use” please do. You will see a savings!

***Warning: DO NOT use a BBQ grill or camp stove for indoor heat. They are designed to be used only outdoors and can produce carbon monoxide, an odorless and deadly gas. They could also be a fire hazard.