This article was originally published by Sara Tipton at Tess Pennington’s ReadyNutrition.com
Tess is the author of The Prepper’s Blueprint: How To Survive ANY Disaster
Heating your home during the winter can be costly and many don’t have the extra money to pay for the uptick in energy costs. But we’ve come up with a few tips and tricks to help you save your money on energy and use more sustainable ways to heat your home.
Not only can a reduction in the amount of energy you use lower your impact on the Earth, but it lowers the impact on your wallet, freeing up some funds for emergencies or for other uses. In a 2013 survey, 10 percent of renters who participated in a Rent.com poll said that utilities are their biggest monthly expense, coming in third after monthly rent and groceries. And just heating your living spaces accounts for about 48 percent of your home’s total energy bills, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
None of the things listed below will require a big investment, but they should help you notice a little relief when your next energy bill comes.
1. Use the sun for free heat: That burning bright orb in the sky should be the focus of temperature control in your residence throughout the year, even in summer. However, once winter rolls around, open the curtains on your south-facing windows during the winter days to bring free heat into your home. Close your window coverings when the sun goes down to keep the heat locked inside.
2. Use a programmable thermostat: Save up to 10 percent on your heating costs per year by setting your thermostat 7 degrees to 10 degrees lower for eight hours a day, says Energy.gov. Set it and forget it by using a programmable thermostat. This works especially well if you are at work during the day. Set the thermostat to 62 degrees for the hours you’re working instead of 70 and you could immediately start seeing the savings on your next bill. If you stay home, try lowering the thermostat overnight by a few degrees while you sleep. You likely won’t notice the difference, and if you do, toss a warmer winter blanket on the bed.
3. Adjust your water temperature: Having hot water at your disposal is a big energy user. The U.S. Department of Energy recommends keeping your water heater’s thermostat set at 120 degrees. According to the agency, anything higher is unnecessary. Water that’s too hot can even be dangerous and scalding. Every 10-degree reduction in your water heater’s thermostat can save you about 3 to 5 percent on your energy bill.
4. Use a ceiling fan to your advantage: Homes that have better ventilation and airflow are usually more energy efficient in both the heat of the summer and during those cold and snowy winter months. If you have ceiling fans in your living space, you have so much more control over ventilation than you know. Ceiling fans can be used strategically to achieve better airflow: counter-clockwise will push hot air up in the summer and clockwise will trap heat inside to keep your rooms warmer during cooler months. Turn your ceiling fan on a low setting to gently push hot air back down.
5. Use a wood burning stove for heat: This obviously only works if you have a wood burning stove and firewood isn’t insanely expensive, or you have the ability to chop it yourself.
Wood burning stoves are both warm and efficient, but in some areas, you’ll have to invest a lot of labor to make up for the lower cost of energy usage. It’s definitely worth it to some, but not to all.
6. Change your furnace filter and keep vents clean and unblocked: Replace the furnace filters regularly, even monthly, depending on the type you buy and how much your furnace needs to be running. Read your appliance’s manual to find the replacement schedule and type, as well as installation instructions. Keeping your furnace and vents properly maintained, such as making sure the vents remain unblocked, will reduce energy consumption and help you save some money. Check your furnace filter monthly, and replace it when it gets dirty. When you are checking your filter, also consider cleaning your vents and clearing any that have obstructions.
7. Close all drapes/blinds/curtains at night: Reduce heat loss by keeping drapes closed at night, or when the sun is not streaming in.
8. Only heat the rooms you use: If you have rooms that you never use, like guest rooms or large storage areas, close and seal off the vents in those rooms to be more energy efficient and direct the flow of warm air into the rooms you use the most. By using a space heater in the rooms where you need it and setting the thermostat to 62 degrees, you can save approximately $200 each year. This comes with a disclosure, however. You need to heat rooms that have running water, such as bathrooms and kitchens to avoid frozen pipes. But you can keep the room at a lower temperature, like 50 degrees, and not have to worry much about the pipes freezing.
9. Invest in insulation: If you have some extra cash, try investing in some really good insulation. While this is the most expensive solution on the list and may seem counterproductive as you’ll be spending thousands to save hundreds every year, it will eventually come out as savings. Hundreds of thousands of dollars in energy costs are lost each year due to escaping warm and cold air in homes because they lack the proper insulation. Get some inexpensive insulation from your local home improvement store, and cover up all those areas where heat might escape. Start with foam weather stripping for your doors and windows; it’s cheap and is extremely easy to apply. If there are places that seem “leaky” try using caulk to seal them up. Larger gaps that allow a bigger chunk of air may require expanding foam to completely block. If your home is older, you may want to consider paying to upgrade all of your insulation.
These tips should help you to save on your energy costs this winter and have a little extra cash on hand. Not only will you be saving money, but you could also be helping the planet.
Tess Pennington is the author of The Prepper’s Blueprint, a comprehensive guide that uses real-life scenarios to help you prepare for any disaster. Because a crisis rarely stops with a triggering event the aftermath can spiral, having the capacity to cripple our normal ways of life. The well-rounded, multi-layered approach outlined in the Blueprint helps you make sense of a wide array of preparedness concepts through easily digestible action items and supply lists.
Tess is also the author of the highly rated Prepper’s Cookbook, which helps you to create a plan for stocking, organizing and maintaining a proper emergency food supply and includes over 300 recipes for nutritious, delicious, life-saving meals.
Visit her website at ReadyNutrition.com for an extensive compilation of free information on preparedness, homesteading, and healthy living.
THE WAR JUST STARTED SOLDIERS OPEN FIRE ON MARINE MELITIA
Thanks for the link.
Marine militia? Nope,doesn’t exist……meds time.
Hey Hcks. That’s Afghanistan Lower plateau, not the Mexican border. False alarm again, Hcks off his Meds again.
Are the readers here that stupid that they need this kind of a story?
I suspect Sara Tipton is a 20-something. 90% of her kind are total blithering idiots.
Right Bert–I started reading and thought the same thing…duh!!!
Most renters, (this article is a survey based on renters)will rent what ever is the cheapest and move at the drop of a hat to get even cheaper rent.
They are not concerned with how good the windows are or if the insulation is up to snuff.
Homeowners on the other hand are aware of energy saving techniques and most likely employ most or many of the things mentioned in the article.
I lived 32 miles east of Seattle for over 20 years.
The article has excellent advice. I followed most all
it it during the time I lived there( except programmable
One piece of advice I’d add is to keep a tea kettle
or coffee pot of water on the wood stove. House heat
gets really dry and if you keep the humidity up
it is more comfortable at lower temperatures.
I kept my all electric home thermostat at 50 degrees for
all rooms at night and raised the thermostat to
65 in daytime.
But we heated with wood 24/7 to keep the Electrical
central furnace operation to a minimum.
I had a 4 bedroom home and used 2000 kW per month
Nov – Apr and 3+ cords during that time.
Don’t forget to take the tax deduction for adding insulation and other related energy efficency upgrades.
From a comfort standpoint, if you like to expose skin like arms and shoulders during the indoor Winter, then I suspect that a fan will not be your friend.
Body surface temp is about 80F and unless the air moving across your skin is significantly higher temp than that, you probably won’t experience any warmth.
Further, most indoor Relative Humidity numbers drop significantly in the Winter. If the Outside air is 50% RH and 30F and you heat it up to 70F and don’t add any moisture, the RH will likely be in the 30s.
When you move dry air across your skin, the accompanying evaporation of small amounts of moisture will have a cooling effect – again not a comforting experience.
BTW this is why a lot of people don’t like Forced Air Heat Pumps for Heating. Their air temp is often not much higher than skin temperature – especially earlier versions.
Time of the year I get a job for a few months. Pay propane and taxes. Keep from passing out at 5pm when it’s dark. Screw winter.
Forget the wood burning stove. The EPA is readying new restrictions on most of them. If you have pets,let them sleep with you at nighttime. If you have a special someone(s) sleep with them !
Nice article, Sara.
_ wool and alpaca socks
Wearing a nice pair of longjohns under a wool suit is very cool. I like to invest in some stylish leather gloves to chop wood. I wear two hats at the same time when it’s really cold. A wool & alpaca scull cap under a Russian fur hat. I can take off my hat and gloves and put them in my pocket, and continue wearing the little scull cap. If I’m inside somewhere where the heat is blasting, the scull cap comes off, too.
I live in a rented place and have no loft insulation, no double glazing, no woodburning stove, and gaps around the main entrance. Its not pleasant in the winter, its like living in a tent that has solid walls.
My advice is layer up. I wear a long sleeve t-shirt of soft cotton (like long-john material), a soft cotton shirt, and two jumpers on top of that. I wear two pairs of socks, two pairs of trousers, and one of those has a lining on the inside.
I have an electric blanket, a thick duvet, and a folded sleeping bag covering my feet at night. The folded sleeping bag is really good – keep your feet warm and you will remain comfortable.
I have a oil filled radiator, and a 3kw fan heater – but they only take the edge of the cold. You can see your breath at all times – even with the heating on.
But the thing is the body can adapt to the cold, and you will find it remarkable when others complain about the cold.
Being used to the cold the spring feels relatively warm, whereas others are still complaining about the cold.
Thats my two cents worth ladies 🙂
Wearing a warm head covering while indoors during the winter makes you feel warmer at lower indoor temperatures, so wearing a hat or something to keep your head warmer may let you set your thermostat lower and remain comfortable.
From enforcing building codes for may years, I have learned that the largest heat loss (in cold weather) and heat gain (in hot weather), is due to air infiltration/exfiltration.
Sealing you house with weather stripping, caulking, and other methods will reduce heating/cooling costs, and is an inexpensive way to save money.
Beware if you use a woodburning stove and seal your house too much. If you don’t have an outside air feed to your stove it will use up the oxygen in the house and cause problems. People have died because of this.
No worries on the house being too air tight. Mine leaks like a sieve, but at least I feel I am getting fresh air through the night. My woodstove is plenty big for our 1300sqft.