If you’re like lots of people, wintertime presents you with the never-ending struggle of choosing between cost and comfort. You’re continuously faced with the decision of whether to jack up the thermostat and stay comfortably warm, or choose thrift over comfort by keeping the thermostat at an economical setting.
Either choice results in discomfort.
Keep the thermostat set low, and it seems that you’re constantly suffering with cold feet, cold hands, and a chilled nose. Keep the thermostat cranked and your toes may be toasty, but a different kind of chill will surge through your system when you open the energy bill each month.
It’s probably impossible to completely escape that annual wintertime conundrum. But anything you can do to make your home more energy-efficient will lessen the difficulty of the decision by making your home warmer and lowering your energy bills.
Here are four simple and oft-overlooked ways to help keep your home warmer without cranking the thermostat. And each tip will cost you nothing more than a bit of time to implement.
Tip #1: Ration the Fires. A rip-snorting fire roaring in your fireplace can be a wonderful luxury on an icy winter’s evening. But you should know that that fire is an expensive luxury.
That’s because the average home fireplace shoots more than 20,000 cubic feet of warmed air out the fireplace flue every hour that a fire burns. And since nature abhors a vacuum, all of that exhausted inside air is replaced with outside air – cold outside air. And that cold air has to be warmed by your home’s heating system.
So if you have a standard fireplace, it’s costing you in increased energy consumption every time you have a fire. Enjoy a fire for its aesthetics anytime you wish. But just be aware that it’s costing you.
Tip #2: Flip the Switch On Your Ceiling Fans. It’s a fact of nature: warm air is lighter than cool air. That means that the warmest air in a room is nestled against the ceiling. And in a room with a high or vaulted ceiling, that wonderfully warm air isn’t doing much good. It’s wasted.
But you can use a ceiling fan to move that warmer air down low, where it will warm people and do some good. Do that by simply reversing the direction that the fan normally runs, changing it from a counterclockwise rotation (as you’re looking up at the fan) to a clockwise rotation. A simple switch on the side of the motor housing will change the direction of rotation.
Air from the fan will then be blowing against the ceiling, and will have the effect of moving the warm air downwards. When using a ceiling fan for this purpose, run it at the slowest speed.
Tip #3: Arrange Furniture Efficiently. Is a couch blocking a warm air vent? How about a chair, or a bed? It matters. Blocking a supply vent can substantially diminish the effectiveness of your heating system. And the same is true of blocking a return vent.
Making certain that your furniture neither blocks nor impedes the airflow of your heating system is a very simple way to help maximize the efficiency of your system.
Tip #4: Operate Your Drapes on the Sun’s Schedule. Sunlight flowing in through your windows is free energy. Inside air that is chilled against cold windowpanes costs you energy.
Let the sunshine in whenever it’s available by keeping your drapes open while the sun shines. And reduce the amount of warm air chilled against cold windowpanes by keeping drapes closed at night and during cloudy weather.
Keeping your windows clean will also help to maximize the amount of sunlight shining into your home.
It Never Ends…
The cost vs. comfort struggle is one that never seems to end. But it’s something that most of us have to deal with every winter. Unless you’ve got lots of money (and don’t mind spending it), you likely find yourself frozen in indecision in front of your thermostat every winter as the cost vs. comfort struggle plays out in your head.
At the rate energy prices have been increasing in recent years, choosing between cost and comfort becomes all the more difficult (or in a bad way, perhaps easier?). But following the simple tips above should help – at least a little.