When the chilly winter air creeps in, you’re tempted to bump up your thermostat a few degrees, sit in front of a room heater, put on a sweatshirt, or curl up on the couch with your warmest throw blanket. But instead of racking up a heating bill and adding to your laundry, try these time-tested tips to help keep your home warm all winter long.
1. Provider Proper HVAC Maintenance
Your furnace or other heating system is a machine that requires maintenance to provide optimal system performance. You should plan to have your HVAC system inspected and cleaned at least twice per year – once in the spring and once in the fall.
Regular maintenance can decrease the likelihood that you’ll need heating repairs, because your technician can catch minor issues and correct them before they become big, expensive residential heating repairs.
2. Install and Program a Smart Thermostat
It’s a noble goal to cut your energy bill while still keeping your home a comfortable temperature. Few succeed without the help of a smart, programmable thermostat.
This type of modern thermostat allows you to create a schedule, to keep your home warm while you’re home, and cool it down a bit when you’re not. You can also program your thermostat for overnight temperatures, when you’re fast asleep in your bed, and warms up when you’re headed home from work.
A smart thermostat with Wi-Fi gives you control from your smartphone, too, and it can learn your routine so your home is always just right.
3. Don’t Block Air Distribution Vents
Your air vents, if you have a forced-air HVAC system, are likely located along your floor or on the walls of your home. They need space to function properly, so if you have furniture, drapery, or other home decor items near them, you’ll want to remove them so you don’t inhibit airflow.
All air distribution vents need at least six inches of clearance for adequate ventilation. A good rule of thumb is to never block your air return vents, either.
4. Regularly Change Your Air Filter
If your furnace is a forced-air system, then you’ll need to change your air filter on a regular schedule. Professionals recommend you change it every 30 to 45 days, but certainly no less frequently than every three months. If you have pets, live in an area with lots of allergens, or are trying to control dust in your home, you should change it as frequently as every month.
A congested air filter makes your furnace blower work harder than it should, which can make your home feel less warm than you’d expect.
Always replace your furnace filter with one that is the correct size and MERV value, based on what is required in your furnace’s owner’s manual.
5. Cover Your Windows in Plastic Sheets
Go old school with plastic window cover kits from your local hardware store. Hanging plastic sheeting over your windows and securing the entire perimeter is a great way to block drafts and add insulation.
The plastic sheets add a barrier between you and the tiny gaps around your windows. It’s like adding temporary insulation so you don’t feel chilly winter air seeping through.
There is a con to hanging plastic on your windows: it can obstruct your view. If being able to clearly see outside is vital, you’ll want to choose a different method of keeping your home warmer this winter.
6. Hang Heavy Curtains on Your Windows and Elsewhere
Blackout curtains are thick enough to block the sun, which means they’re thick enough to insulate against drafts that leak in through your windows. Unlike plastic sheeting, you can easily move them aside when you need to see outside or let natural light into your home.
For best results, hang your curtains above the top of the window frame for coverage all the way around. Ensure the curtains you purchased are wide and long enough.
If you have rooms without doors – think your stairwell, dining room, or other areas – then you could opt to hang heavy curtains to block off rooms to keep them warm, especially if they’re in areas of the home that tend to be more chilly, or they’re where you spend your most time. For example, some people hang curtains to separate their living room from the entryway of their home, where opening and closing the front door makes for chilly indoor temps.
7. Seal the Drafts Around Your Windows and Doors
Peel-and-stick foam insulating strips are inexpensive, but effective at filling the gaps between your doors and windows and their corresponding frames. Find rolls of it at your local big box hardware store.
These strips are also easy to install so you can begin blocking drafts in mere minutes, without interfering with how your windows or doors open and close.
8. Add Insulation
Houses that stay too cold in the winter may need more insulation between the interior and outer walls, or in the attic. Older homes tend to lack adequate insulation, so if you live in one, it’s wise to add insulation when you can.
You can choose from many types of insulation, although the standard fiberglass batt that comes in rolls is the least expensive. Blown-in or spray foam insulation can be easier to install if you prefer to leave your walls finished. However, it is more expensive to purchase outright.
9. Close Off Vents in Rooms You Don’t Use
Not every room in your house gets used every day, and that’s OK! But why pay to heat those empty rooms? As long as they don’t contain important plumbing that could freeze, close the air vents in those rooms – or turn off their radiators – and keep the door closed.
Closing the vents decreases the square footage your HVAC system must heat and could help the rest of your home feel warmer.
10. Upgraded Your HVAC System
An older HVAC system is no longer as energy-efficient as it once was. Older HVAC systems, even well-cared for ones, don’t work at full efficiency after an amount of time.
The maximum age for most functioning systems is between 15 and 20 years, but just because your equipment is still functional, doesn’t mean it’s working its absolute best.
If you want to lower your utility bills and make your home more energy efficient, you should purchase top-of-the-line HVAC equipment and have your heating installation professional done. You’ll find that you’re warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer, without breaking the bank every month, and without paying for expensive heating repairs.
Which Methods Will You Try?
Not every method of keeping your home warmer is right for every home. Consider the pros and cons of implementing each before settling on a few to help you stay warm this winter.
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