Autumn is but a distant memory and spring is months away. In the frigid months in between, we tend to stay tucked up at home, avoiding the cold that lies beyond our front door. We struggle to keep winter chill out, the heat in and our bills low. Try some of these cost-effective strategies to help minimise the extra costs of winter.
Optimise your thermostat time settings. Many thermostats can be programed to turn on and off at certain points of the day. If you’re not home during the day, consider dropping the temperatures in your home to 15°C – 20°C and have it start to increase 30 minutes before you get home. Never turn it off all the way, or your pipes might freeze and you’ll have much bigger problems.
Empty your gutters before it snows. By keeping the gutters clean, the runoff from snow buildup on your roof can flow away the way it’s meant to. Otherwise, icicles and ice dams may build up. The snow and ice will keep your home cool, forcing your furnace to work harder. It could also potentially break your gutters from the weight of the buildup.
Flush your water heater. Over time, small particles and sediment can collect in the base of your water heater. Flush the buildup out through the drain valve to help your water heater work at peak efficiency.
Change the flow of your fan. Ceiling fans can be a lifesaver during the summer by bringing the breeze inside. Did you know they’re just as helpful during the winter? By changing the flow of the fan to clockwise, the fan will push hot air down towards the floor.
Cost: £0 (if you have a fan)
Replace or clean your air filters. Efficiency is key to keeping your bills down, so change or clean your air filters to help improve your heater’s performance. The more efficiently it runs, the less energy you use to heat your home.
Insulate your windows. With a hair dryer and an insulation kit, you can prevent up to 70% of your heat from escaping from your windows.1 While this isn’t the prettiest solution visually, it does wonders for your wallet.
Cost: £7 – £15/kit
Keep the draught outside. The points of entry in your home are the worst offenders of warm air leaks, especially in older homes. Keep the draught where it belongs with a draught guard. You can purchase already-made guards, or make your own.
Cost: £7 – £20
Airtight saves. You’ve taken care of the typical airway entries at your window and doors. However, if the edges are not completely sealed around the frame, your effort won’t be nearly as effective. Purchase some weatherstripping to help eliminate the faintest of breezes.
Caulk if necessary. If you’ve sealed up everything the best you can and there is still a consistent draught, consider filling any gaps on the exterior of your home with caulk. Caulk can fill gaps in the siding, windows and doors.
Close up shop for the winter. If you have a three-seasons room or an area of your home that you don’t use all winter long, consider packing fiberglass insulation along the doors, windows and any other area that might let the cold in.
A dormant chimney is a draughty one. Fireplaces are a great source of warmth and comfort on a long winter’s night; they can also lead to a whole lot of energy lost. When your fireplace is not in use, consider using a chimney balloon to keep the draught from sneaking down.
Protect your pipes. When water freezes, it expands — this isn’t good news for your pipes. If your pipes crack, or worse, you may be stuck with a large clean up project that will cost you more in the long run. Instead, prevent your pipes from fracturing with some simple insulation.
Cost: £3 – £10
Preparing your home for winter can lower your electrical bills, but it also protects you from bigger problems that may arise. Investing in your home in small ways now can help avoid bigger costs later down the road. If you need more help preparing for the winter, try out this handy checklist to get started.
1Bob Vila. (n.d.). 11 ways to winterize your home on a budget. Retrieved 26 September 2016, from http://www.bobvila.com/slideshow/11-ways-to-winterize-your-home-on-a-budget-10169/window-insulation-film