Brrrr…winter arrived this week and it seems even colder after the balmy Christmas and New Year. It is not too late to prepare your house for cold weather to keep warm and save energy. The most important thing is to keep the cold air out. A home energy audit is the best way to discover where your house is leaking. Typical leaky locations are electrical outlets, switch plates, door and window frames, attic hatches, dryer vents and plumbing, electrical, and cable connections in the exterior walls and floors. These leaks can be filled with caulk and/or insulation and the doors should be weather-stripped.
Your heating system should be maintained and the filters changed monthly for it to run at maximum efficiency. By turning the thermostat back 10 to 15% when you are away or out of the house you can save 10% on your energy bill according to the US Department of Energy. Only do this if you have a furnace. If you have a heat pump you should only set the thermostat back a few degrees. When a heat pump needs to heat a room quickly it uses the auxiliary electric strips which is very inefficient.
Curtains with insulated liners will help block drafts from leaky windows, especially in the historic homes with single pane glass. Be sure to open the curtains on south facing windows during the day to take advantage of the sun to warm the room.
There are several easy items to help keep you warmer. Reverse your ceiling fans to run clockwise to push the heat that has risen to the ceiling back down to the floor. This is particularly useful for rooms with high ceilings. Close the fireplace damper whenever there is not a fire burning. Glass doors on fireplaces help prevent the warm air in the room from going up the chimney. Move furniture away from the heating vents so the warm air is not trapped under or behind the furniture. Finally as your dad always told you, “If you are cold, put on a sweater”.