Some households triple or even quadruple their electricity consumption during the home heating season. But there are several ways to save energy and keep your utility costs down without shivering through the winter.
If these chilly temperatures have you reaching for the thermostat, you may end up spending more than you’d like on your utility bills. Here are several ways to stay warm and comfortable, without making your heating system work overtime.
Start by using the thermostat wisely. Consider setting it to around 68 degrees when you’re at home and lowering it by a few degrees when you’re away or asleep. If it can be programmed, do it and make the savings automatic. If it can’t, set a reminder to adjust it around your personal schedule. Dialing in your thermostat control can add up to significant energy savings over time. Investing in a smart thermostat can accelerate those savings, especially if it’s purchased with a rebate from Clark Public Utilities.
A furnace is efficient when it gets the air it needs. A clean filter will help your furnace run its best and protect your indoor air quality. If yours is dirty, replace it. While you’re there, look for a maintenance schedule. If it’s been more than a year since the last inspection or if it sounds or smells unusual while running, make an appointment with an HVAC specialist.
Zonal heaters, like cable ceiling, wall or baseboard heaters, are usually the costliest form of home heating, and they’re quite common in the Pacific Northwest. They must be set manually, and the dials aren’t accurate. Placing an ambient thermometer in the rooms where they’re in use will give a clearer picture of the temperature and help you heat the space with greater precision.
This time of year, set your ceiling fan to rotate clockwise at a low speed to help distribute warm air around the room. Change the rotation with the switch on its side.
For the most personal comfort, look beyond the thermostat. Thick socks and soft slippers will keep your feet warm on a chilly floor. Sweaters, throws and heated blankets are great ways to stay warm while lounging around the house.
A mug of your favorite warm beverage will warm your hands and belly any time of day.
Sometimes you just can’t warm up, no matter how bundled up you are. In those cases, a little exercise can be the perfect thing to chase away the chills. Something as small as doing chores around the house or taking a walk around the neighborhood will get the blood pumping and your temperature up.
Air leaks are the arch nemesis of a home heating system. Placing a rolled-up towel or a draft stopper at the bottom of an exterior door will prevent cold air from seeping into your home.
Shutting heavy curtains or drapes around windows will trap heat inside. Opening them on sunny days will passively heat your living spaces; just remember to shut them before the sun goes down.
Other behavioral changes can also help reduce home expenses. Get in the habit of shutting off any lights or electronics you’re not using, cooking with smaller appliances, and using hot water sparingly.
With a little planning it’s possible to keep heating costs down without sacrificing a comfortable, cozy home in the winter.
Energy Adviser is written by Clark Public Utilities. Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or to Energy Adviser, c/o Clark Public Utilities, P.O. Box 8900, Vancouver, WA 98668