With winter upon us, you’ve probably got the heat cranked up at least part of the time. Or, maybe you’re using your fireplace, portable space heaters — and a lot of blankets. Hey, you’re just trying to stay warm, right? But, are you getting the most out of your efforts?
Many homeowners aren’t, and they end up spending more on heat than necessary. Here are five of the most common reasons why:
- Not identifying and addressing leaks. Sure, you have some drafty areas here and there, but how bad could it really be? The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) says it’s not uncommon for all those small leaks to add up to the equivalent of an entire window being left open all the time. Now that’s something you want to address. You could place a draft guard at the base of each door or window, or you could do something more. Through a home energy audit, a certified auditor will use a blower device and other tools to find all the areas where air is leaking from your home. Addressing them, according to the DOE, could save you as much as 30 percent on your energy costs.
- Exasperating leaks. Closing a vent or two in rooms you use less often may seem like a good way to direct more heat to where you really need it. However, this leaves fewer places for the air to go, increasing the air pressure in your duct system. That can cause increased leakage in ducts, lower air flow and higher energy use – the opposite of what you’re trying to achieve.
- Leaving the heat running. If you don’t have a programmable thermostat and your heat is on, it will stay on until you turn it off — whether you’re at work, asleep, even on vacation (hopefully someplace warm!). To increase efficiency, install a thermostat that allows you to customize your settings. You can lower the heat while you’re at work, for example, and set it to turn on an hour or so before you get home so it’s nice and warm when you arrive. And, newer thermostats will even learn about your preferences and automatically adjust.
- Dropping the ball on routine maintenance. Even something as simple as changing your air filter regularly (every month during times of heavy use, such as winter) can have a big impact on your furnace’s performance. And, when’s the last time you had your furnace checked? Just like a car, regular maintenance can prevent larger problems down the road — and you certainly don’t want your furnace to break down during the coldest months of the year.
- Ignoring larger problems. No one can fault you for using a space heater to warm up an especially chilly room from time to time, so long as you use it safely. But, if you’re using multiple space heaters in multiple rooms because your entire house feels cold, it’s time to look at other solutions, such as the ones above, to address the root cause of the problem. Because, by ignoring problems, you may be costing yourself more in the long run.
We get it – when your heating bills are costing you an arm and a leg, you don’t feel like pouring more money or time into the situation. But, invest in the right areas and you might just increase your comfort and decrease your energy costs at the same time. And, that’s a win-win!
Protect Your Home From Winter’s Damage
Winter doesn’t just wreak havoc on your energy costs. Snow, cold and ice can all lead to home damage and costly repairs. Learn how to protect your home this winter, and check in with your independent insurance agent about the coverage you have for various types of home damage.