Sep 192014

The winter is approaching and tri-county area residents are already talking about the upcoming winter forecast. The cold reality will be that this is going to be an expensive winter for heating your home.

If you’ve ever thought about alternative heating ideas for your home, this just might be the fall to get started. Here are a few ideas that might help:

1. Adjust your thermostat. By turning your thermostat back 10 to 15 degrees for eight hours, the U.S. Department of Energy estimates that households can save 10 percent a year on heating and cooling costs. Why not go a step further and invest in a programmable thermostat, or smart home technology that allows you to program your heat from your smartphone. If you don’t have a programmable thermostat; read our purchasing guide, take a look to our guide and find the perfect one for you.

2. Use fireplace inserts. Make your fireplace airtight and more efficient, especially if you have an older fireplace with an open hearth that is only 5-10 percent efficient.

3. Invest in a pellet stove. A “distant cousin” to a wood stove, this mode operates on pellets made from compacted sawdust or wood chips instead of conventional fossil fuels.

4. Consider a masonry heater. They produce more heat and less pollution than pellet or wood stoves. They usually burn wood, but go through less wood because they burn slower.

5. Weatherize your home by looking for cracks and holes in the foundation, doorways and windows. Apply weather stripping or caulk to drafty areas.

6. Install radiant heating, a dry heating system placed under carpeting or ceramic tile. It may cut heating bills by 20 to 40 percent over time, without worrying about having to adjust a thermostat.

7. Use solar power. Although this can be an expensive endeavor, retrofitting your home with solar panels to use the sun’s rays for energy can be a money-saver in the long run. However, it may take up to a dozen years to realize those savings.

8. Install double-paned windows. These reduce the heat loss, which can drain 10 to 25 percent of your heating bill.

9. Install a geothermal system. It uses the constant, stable temperature of the earth as a base to heat your home. Large coils are buried in the earth and a liquid, usually a mixture of water and anti-freeze, runs through the tubes. That water is then run through your home. A compressor extracts the heat from the water, and then raises the temperature to what your thermostat is set at. The USDE estimates that a geothermal heat system runs between 300-600 percent efficiency on the coldest nights.

10. Upgrade your current heating system. Mechanisms like Heat Manager or a hot water heating system fuel economizer can be installed to help curb fuel consumption by up to 10 percent.

Five ways to insulate your windows for winter

1. Rubber weather sealing. Cut long strips down to fit your window dimensions, then peel and stick to the frame to close any gaps and keep out drafts.

2. Window insulation film. Kits usually include plastic shrink film applied to the indoor window frame with double-stick tape, then heated with a hair dryer to shrink the film and remove wrinkles.

3. Cellular shades. These insulate while still letting in light through the windows. They can be ordered and custom cut from home and design centers. They can be expensive and may not insulate as well as heavier curtains.

4. Layered curtains. Use heavy fabrics or layered curtains over the windows to keep out drafts.

5. Draft “snakes.” These fabric tubes can be placed on a windowsill or under a door to prevent cold air from creeping in. They’re cheap and easy to make, but only insulate the sill, not the window.

Source: Apartment Therapy

Other tips to reduce your heating bills:

1. Use your ceiling fans to distribute warm air.

2. Use a humidifier to help the air in your home feel warmer.

3. Block leaks around windows and doors to keep warm air from escaping and cold air from coming in.

4. Make sure your ductwork is properly connected, because you can lose up to 60 percent of your heated air.

5. Have your furnace checked annually to ensure it is working safely and efficiently.

Source: One Hour Heating and Air Conditioning

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