The holiday season is approaching, which means temperatures will drop (and for many, electric bills with rise). According to the United States Energy Information Administration, the average American household spent nearly $4,000 on heating costs in the winter of 2018. As cozy as drinking hot cocoa by the fireplace can be, it’s (nearly) impossible to stay by the fire all winter to keep warm. So, how can you most efficiently heat your home to stay safe and warm all season long?
Here are some tips to heat your home and avoid the frightful cold weather, while remaining safe indoors:
Plan ahead – Schedule an HVAC checkup
Schedule a checkup with your HVAC technician in early fall. In doing so, you can confirm everything is in order before you start to put your machine to the test. Any problems that arise are better settled early. Check for odors, noises, and any potential leaks before inviting over a technician to inspect your HVAC.
Expecting a cold winter? Add insulation
A quick call to your HVAC technician to replace or add insulation can save you a whole lot of chills and change when the temperature drops. The technician will inspect your attic for deterioration, add what’s needed, and possibly even give recommendations to prevent insulation breakdown.
Move furniture to avoid vents and heaters
It may seem counterintuitive to not stay as close to your heater as possible. However, by placing furniture and other objects at least 3 feet from your heater, the heat is able to better flow throughout the room and house. The same goes for ventilation ducts!
Plug your heater directly into the wall
Forget power strips, which can minimize the energy your heater puts out. Instead, plug your heater directly into the plug to ensure it is receiving the full amount of power needed to work efficiently.
Beware Electric Blankets
Don’t get me wrong – a soft, heated blanket can make a holiday movie bring even more comfort and joy. However, electric blankets older than 5 years can pose a serious fire hazard if not used properly. Our recommendation? Wait until a blanket completely cools down before folding and placing it in a pile with other blankets or on couch fabric. Additionally, avoid keeping an electric blanket turned on at night when sleeping.
Schedule a Chimney Inspection
Chimneys should receive an annual inspection and cleaning by a qualified professional. Even if used infrequently, chimneys can build up layers of creosote, a highly-flammable carbonaceous chemical.
Be Conscious of Fireplace Safety
If you light your fireplace occasionally, avoid placing hanging decorations around the fireplace or mantel area, including stockings and garland. Additionally, having a good fireplace screen can stop flying sparks from ruining Christmas morning. We recommend disposing of wrapping paper either by trash or recycle when appropriate. Wrapping paper burns quickly and is too hot to be controlled.
Switch Your Curtains
Fold your Summer linens and store them away. In the winter months, dark, heavier curtains will keep you and yours warm indoors. Keep your curtains shut at night and open them during the day. This allows the sunlight to bring the internal temperature up naturally.
Change your Thermostat gradually
Despite what our own logic might tell us, turning the thermostat up 10 degrees will only make the furnace warm your home longer, not faster. Instead of spiking your energy bills with extreme temperature increases, try gradually moving up your thermostat 1-2 degrees every hour you are cold in the evening. (For example, at 7:00 p.m., increase from 65 to 67. At 8:00 p.m., increase from 67 to 68. At 9:00 p.m., increase from 68 to 70.)
Consider installing a Smart Thermostat
Smart technology can sometimes seem like something out of an Orwell novel, but smart thermostats are far more helpful than ever harmful. Ordinary thermostats can be programmed to add a schedule. However, smart thermostats are equipped with the technology to learn how to optimize temperature efficiency based on the local weather and your habits.
Close off rooms you don’t use
For homes with ventilation, turn off the vents in rooms that are seldom used, like guest rooms or home offices. Not only will this save on electricity, but the heat will redirect to places where the vents are open, where you and yours abide and desire heat the most.
Make sock-wearing (or slippers) your new home habit
According to a study cited by Apartment Therapy, 44 percent of Americans hate going to bed with socks on, 28 percent love it, and the remaining 29 percent have mixed feelings. Although the majority dislike wearing socks in the home, the sock lovers might be onto something.
Body temperatures fluctuate throughout the night, so wearing socks can help maintain balance and help you get to sleep faster. If you still aren’t convinced, try a comfortable and sturdy pair of slippers that can keep your feet and the rest of your body warm as you roam around the house.
Use Holiday Baking to your home’s advantage
When the time for decorating a Gingerbread House or Christmas cookies comes around, utilize your oven’s high temperatures. Do this by cracking the door open after removing baked goods from the oven. This allows the decreasing heat inside the oven to travel throughout your kitchen and remove the need for cranking up the heat.
Ovens should never be used as a primary form of heating. They carry the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning as well as serious fire hazards.
HVAC System Maintenance
While many of these helpful ideas will keep you and your family safe and warm this winter, there’s no full substitute for routine HVAC system maintenance and installing insulation. The further ahead you prepare for the winter months, the better chance your home will have of being filled with warmth all season long.
While the best time to get ahead on making your home ready for winter was a few months ago, the next best time is now. Contact AGES Service Company today to heat your home with state of the art equipment with help from experienced technicians.