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High Temps, Low Costs: How to Lower Your Heating Bill In Winter

As anyone who lives in the Chicagoland area knows, the winters can be especially harsh, so as the cold season approaches it isn’t surprising that many families start to worry about how they’re going to be able to afford to pay their heating bills. Luckily, it is possible to save energy and save money while staying comfortable even on the coldest days of the year. Here are some top tips to help you reduce your heating bill and to ensure you stay cozy when the snow starts to fall.

 

Keep Your Heating Costs Low This Winter

 

Focus On Your Windows

 

Your windows are the source of much of the heat loss from your home, but there are a number of steps you can take to minimize heat loss and maximize the sun’s warmth. Firstly, on sunny days, always open the curtains on all of your home’s windows that face south as this will enable the sun’s rays to heat your property naturally. Of course, you must also remember to close your curtains once more as the night starts to fall as this will keep out the chill of the cold glass.

 

If you find that drafts are still coming through your windows, you can use a clear plastic heavy duty sheet on a frame, or alternatively, tape some clear plastic film onto the inner side of the window frames during the winter. By sealing the plastic tightly to the window frame, fewer drafts will be able to find their way into your rooms. You can also reduce heat loss by installing insulating, tight fitting shades or drapes on your windows. This will boost the energy efficiency of your home helping you to reduce your heating bill and to reduce your carbon footprint at the same time.

 

Make Some Temperature Adjustments

 

By using your thermostat properly you can slash your heating costs exponentially. If you are in the house during the day, turn down your thermostat to the lowest temperature that is still comfortable. If you are sleeping or away from home, you should turn down the thermostat to somewhere between 10 and 15 degrees for 8 hours of the day. This will cut about 10% per year off your cooling and heating bills. By investing in a programmable or smart thermostat, you can easily adjust your temperature in the most convenient way.

 

While nobody wants to stay bundled up in bulky coats and hats when they’re in their home, you can afford to turn your thermostat down a small amount and still be comfortable if you choose a setting between 60 and 70 degrees and keep a sweater on. Making a small sacrifice like this can cut your heating bill by up to a fifth, and that can amount to a pretty impressive saving.

 

Consider Investing In New Appliances

 

 

Although buying a new water heater or heating system might sound like an expensive waste of money, it’s important to consider the long term. Heating your home’s water accounts for as much as 11% of your utility bills and that means that changing your water heater for a more energy efficient one can make all the difference. If you have a traditional water tank heater, consider switching to a tankless one which only heats water as and when it‘s required to avoid the additional energy consumption of heating water which is not required.

 

You should also take a look at your furnace. If you have an ageing oil or gas fired furnace it’s important to be aware that their lifespan is only around 15-20 years and if your is approaching the end of its useful life it could be causing your energy bills to inflate. Replacing your older model with a new Energy Star certified unit could save you as much as 20% on your heating bills. If you’re planning to remain in your home for a few more years, making the upfront investment will pay for itself in a short time.

 

 

Find Those Leaks

 

Leaks and cracks around your home are the source of unwanted drafts and also contribute to your property’s overall heat loss, resulting in you having to crank up the thermostat and increase your heating bills in order to stay warm. One way to retain heat is to find any air leaks around your home and to seal the gaps to prevent warm air from escaping and cold air from getting in. Check gaps around any recessed lights, chimneys, utility pipe cut throughs and any areas behind closets and cupboards for hidden cracks and then seal them. It’s also wise to use weatherstripping or caulk to seal any air leaks around your windows and doors.

 

Schedule A Heating System Service

 

The last thing you want is to wake up on the coldest day of the year to find that your heating system has broken down. While many people think that they can save on the cost of regular maintenance when it comes to their heating system, skimping on this essential service can lead to a much more expensive bill if and when the system eventually breaks down. By arranging an annual service for your heating system you can make sure that it is working at the optimal level and that any problems have been spotted and rectified before they get out of hand and cause a major problem. An annual tune up will ensure that all the components are in good working order and that the system is functioning most economically to save you money and to keep your home toasty warm.

 

 

Keeping Your Heating System Clean

 

If you have a heat pump or a furnace, it’s important to always replace the filter on a monthly basis, or more frequently if necessary. Maintaining your heat pump, boiler or furnace is vital to keeping it in good running order. If you have a pellet or wood burning heater, you should always take care to clean its flue vent frequently as well as cleaning the interior of the appliance periodically with a wire brush as this will ensure your home is being heated efficiently.

 

Reducing Heat Loss From Fireplaces

 

While a fire in the grate is a cozy image, if your home has a fireplace, this can be a major source of heat loss. Warm air is drawn upwards through the chimney leaving your room cold and uncomfortable whenever there is no fire burning, so it is always important to keep the damper firmly closed. If you allow it to remain open it is similar to leave a window open, allowing warm air to escape at an alarming rate.

 

Whenever the fireplace is in use, you can reduce any additional heat loss by keeping the damper open in the bottom of the firebox. If your fireplace does not have dampers, you can open a window very slightly instead (no more than an inch) while also closing all of the doors which lead into the room. You can then reduce the setting of your thermostat to around 50-55 degrees Fahrenheit.

 

Another option for your fireplace is to install tempered glass doors as well as a heat-air exchange system. This will blow the warm air back into your room for a much more energy efficient alternative that will ensure your space stays extremely comfortable. You should also check the fireplace flue damper’s seal to ensure it is as snug as it can be to avoid drafts. Buying a grate which is made from C-shaped metal tubes will ensure that cool air from the room is drawn into the fireplace while warm air is effectively circulated back through the room.

 

On the other hand, if you have a fireplace but find that you never actually use it for its intended purpose it could be time to think of getting rid of it. If you plug and seal your flue, you’ll find that the room becomes a lot warmer but you won’t lose the attractive feature in your room.

 

Reduce The Cost Of Your Water Heating

 

Turning down your water heater’s temperature to “warm” or around 120 degrees Fahrenheit will make a big difference when it comes to saving energy and, as an added bonus, you’ll never need to worry about accidentally scalding yourself when washing your hands or running a bath.

Festive Ways to Warm Up This Winter

Get Toasty With These Festive Ideas

 

When it comes to the winter holiday season there are always a number of guarantees; you’re guaranteed to hear the best Christmas hits almost on loop, you’re guaranteed to witness the latest and craziest ways to use Christmas lights, and you’re guaranteed to see more than one Santa Claus wondering the streets. However, while there are many guarantees that make Christmas such a special time of the year, there are also those that are not so avidly looked forward to, namely, the guarantee of cold weather.

Despite how magical the festive season can be, battling the cold day in and day out can put a strain on even the strongest of Christmas spirits. While switching the heating up to max is one way to tackle the cold, it certainly isn’t the only, or the most festive, option on the cards. If you’re feeling the cold this holiday season, then we have some of the best tips for festive ways to stay warm.

Staying warm throughout the festive season starts with keeping yourself warm. Thankfully, Christmas offers a lot of inspiration for unique and festive ways to stay toasty in some of the coldest months of the year. Getting into the Christmas spirit is that much easier when the cold is a distant memory.

Indulge in a Hot Chocolate

For many people, there is no competition when it comes to deciding what the best drink of the holiday season is. While hot chocolate is great all year round, it somehow becomes even more special at Christmas. Whether you like yours piled with marshmallows, overflowing with cream, or with a dash of cinnamon, there is no doubting the warming properties of this delicious drink.

Unpack Your Hats, Gloves, and Scarves

Christmas is the season of hats, gloves, and scarves. Everywhere you look on the streets there are people that have already unpacked and happily adorned their winter accessories. A fantastic way to keep warm, wrapping up in your favorite winter scarf creates an extraordinarily festive feeling. Twinning your accessories with a suitable winter coat, means the cold will no longer be a problem when you’re out and about.

Turn up the Festive Tunes

While Christmas songs are being introduced earlier and earlier every year, they still have that magical ability to make you feel festive. Most of us are responsible for letting loose and dancing up a storm when our favorite songs come on, so switching over to the Christmas hit for a dance session makes for a great way to relax and stay warm.

Whip out the Marshmallows for Home-Made Smores

Smores and Christmas go hand in hand, after all, there are few better ways to indulge in a festive treat than by combining chocolate, marshmallows, and crackers. This warming sweet treat is the ideal indulgence to warm you up and help you get into the Christmas spirit.

Get Inventive by Making Your Own Spiced Wine

If hot chocolate is not your beverage of choice, or you feel like something a little stronger to kick off your evening, then try making your own hot spiced wine. A staple of Christmas markets, the aroma of spiced wine alone is enough to make you feel festive. Thankfully, it’s not too difficult to make at home.

Invest in Some Christmassy Pajamas

Be it a novelty onesie or a set of Christmas patterned pajamas, there are few more comfortable ways to stay warm and feel festive than by stocking up on Christmas nightwear. As the temperature plummets, warm winter pajamas become a necessity to keeping warm, making them an ideal candidate for a festive transformation.

Wrap up in Your Favorite Blanket

With hot chocolate, or spiced wine, in hand, wrapping up in a warm blanket is a great way to fend off the chill of winter and stay toasty. Whether you’re curled up in front of the fire with a book, or watching a festive movie on the TV, a blanket should be your number one accessory during the festive season.

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