Energy Efficiency During the Frigid Winter Months
Here in Massachusetts we’re staring at a string of days that won’t even register on the positive side of the Fahrenheit thermometer. That’s cold. As you assess where you’re at as the winter plods along, we thought we’d throw out a dozen tips to help you keep your energy consumption as efficient as it can possible be. Heat is expensive. Maximize what you get out of the energy you’re producing under your roof – be it at home or at the office.
Lower your thermostat – Sounds crazy as we start to pile the blankets on the bed, but, give it a shot… A decrease of 4 °F could save you as much as 4% on your heating bill. Who couldn’t use a little more green in their pocket? Invest in a sweater and demand more out that thermostat!
Lay down a rug – Do it. You’ll not only help insulate your floors, but you’ll cut down on noise too. Cozier on myriad fronts…
Check your filters – We know, we know. We harp on this a lot. Hey, we wouldn’t have to if you’d just commit to a carefree maintenance plan… Checking the filters on a monthly basis during the winter months will help keep your heating environment “honest,” well maintained, and will reduce energy consumption which could save you up to 5% percent on your heating costs.
Don’t block air vents – Seems obvious, be we’ve learned that it isn’t. Keep supply and return air vents clear of furniture and appliances so your heating system can work more efficiently. Do you sleep with a pillow over your face? No, of course you don’t. You’ve got to breathe to make the next day a viable option. Same is true with your heating system. Let it breathe.
Don’t heat unnecessary places – Avoid heating areas of your home that are not insulated, such as a garage, crawlspaces, attic, or storage sheds. Further, installing a “smart” programmable thermostat allows you to manage the heating of multiple areas of your home or office, saving you up to 10% on your energy bill.
Purchase a well-insulated door – Unless you already have one. Or perhaps bolster the insulation on your current mode of entrance. To check if a door provides good insulation, place your hand against it from the inside. If it feels cooler than the inside walls, it might be time to install a door that’s better insulated. Install fully insulated doors on all entrances to garages, cold storage rooms and un-insulated basements. Also, think about your windows too. We’ll save you line item; it’s very much in tune to what we’re talking about here with doors.
Try a tune-up – Have we mentioned our maintenance plans? Not ready to replace your heating system? A regular tune-up can save 3 to 10% on your next heating bill.
Measure your attic’s insulation thickness – You’re greatest combatant to lost heating energy is in the way you insulate your building. To find out if you have enough attic insulation, measure its thickness. If there is less than 7 inches of fiberglass / rock wool or 6 inches of cellulose you could probably benefit by adding more. And while you’re up there, consider installing some roof vents and inlets to improve ventilation.
Heat your home (or office) responsibly – This harkens back to the smart thermostat we referenced above. With a proper, technologically advanced thermostat, you won’t even need to worry about the sentiment of this entry.
Here’s the skinny: Cranking up the heat to warm your dwelling quickly doesn’t work. It will warm up at the same rate, regardless of the temperature setting. All you’re doing is taxing your heating system.
Enjoy the sun – Open the drapes or blinds on sunny days and bask in the “free” heat. Keep those south-facing windows squeaky clean to let the light through. All this said, remember to close the drapes or blinds when the sun sets. You know why.
Try a humidifier for extra heat – Not only does a humidifier add a little bit of relief to the painfully dry air that chaps skin and bothers the lungs, it also allows you to turn your thermostat down and be comfortable at lower temperatures. The heat gets stuck in the “water” in the air – which, in this case, is a good thing. We’ll talk about air conditioning in the summertime when humidity is naturally oppressive…
Close the garage door to trap heat – Another “seems obvious” piece of advice, but, we make a lot of house calls, and we know a lot of you are just leaving those doors wide open. It’s fine (generally speaking) in the summertime, but during the winter months, keep the garage door tightly closed as often as possible so that you might retain warmer air against the garage-side wall of the house, which will act as a buffer against the colder outdoor air.