Winterize your home

This post was written for SafeWise by Jacob Hurwith from ImproveNet.com, a home remodeling and home improvement resource website.

Let’s be honest; it’s been a pretty mild winter thus far. Even in Chicago, my hometown, we’ve only had a few days under 10 degrees. Nevertheless, as they do every winter, utility bills get larger and larger until spring nears. Fortunately, there are a few easy ways to lower those utility bills without freezing your tails off.

1. Turn Down the Thermostat

The best and perhaps the most obvious way to lower your gas bill is to turn down your thermostat. All factors consistent, a home that leaves the thermostat at 78 degrees will pay more than a home that averages 72 degrees. According to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), the rule of thumb is that you save about 3% on your gas bill for every degree you decrease on the thermostat. Furthermore, ACEEE says that if you turn your thermostat down 10 degrees when you go to work and at night, you can save about 14%.

As loyal SafeWise readers know, home automation has changed the thermostat arena. Smart, programmable technology ensures no heat is being wasted on an empty home. Whether it’s setting a schedule for your heat with Nest or controlling your home’s lights from an app, smart technology has changed the name of the game.

2. Use the Sun

The most powerful heating source in the world is the sun. Take advantage of all that natural light you get from those picture windows and open all blinds and shades during the day. Utilizing the sun’s heat is the simplest way to winterize a home.

Going back to the thermostat, a degree or two can make a difference. As such, if you know you’ll be spending most of your day in your living room and that room gets great sun, lower your thermostat. After all, one degree can save up to 3% off your gas bill.

The clear drawback of using the sun as your heat source is nighttime heat. You may want to crank the thermostat before sunset.

3. Reverse Rotation of Ceiling Fans

The direction of your ceiling fans can make a home warmer and thus, save you money on heating costs. Ceiling fans should run clockwise in the winter or any time you want your home warmer. Heat naturally rises and fans that run clockwise push that heat back down into the room. If you think about it, this is why many basements are colder than other floors.

Many fans have a simple switch above the fan and others just use the cord hanging from the ceiling fan itself. If you are unsure how to change the direction, contact a local window pro.

4. Insulate Your Windows

Much like heat rising, insulating your windows keeps that expensive heat where it needs to be. As such, another terrific way to lower your gas bill is by insulating your windows. In fact, window insulation helps two-fold. Window insulation, whether it be through caulk, plastic films or even draft stoppers, keeps hot air inside the home. Likewise, it also keeps cold air outside the home.

Keeping cold air outside essentially makes the job of your furnace, boiler, etc. much, much easier. The less stress you put on your HVAC system, the cheaper your gas bill will be.

Bonus: Window insulation can lower your heating bills by as much as 14%.

5. Build A Fire

If you have a fireplace, this can be a great alternative way to heat your home once winter rolls around. Building a fire is a terrific solution for those who rely on natural sun during the day, and can be a great addition to more common HVAC systems. However, don’t overdo it if you have a gas fireplace – you’ll see a spike in your utility bill.

Also, remember to close that damper when not in use. Just like an open window or door, heat can leave the home through the damper.

Staying warm in the winter is a top priority, but so is your budget – use these 5 tips to heat your home efficiently and save some cash while doing it.

Written by Jacob Hurwith

Jacob is the content marketing manager at ImproveNet, which connects homeowners (for free) with local contractors. Jacob started his career with the Chicago Sun-Times, but has since worked in the marketing departments for various agencies and brands. Learn more

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