Ah, the deep freeze of winter. Maybe you love the freshly fallen snow, the way you can see your breath in the air, and snuggling up under warm blankets while the wind howls outside. On the other hand, maybe you’re sick of runny noses, wearing 18 layers of clothing, and constantly worrying about whether the roads are safe for driving.
Whether you’re reveling in a winter wonderland or nursing a serious case of spring fever, there’s one thing we all have in common: Our indoor heaters are running nearly all the time. That kind of energy use can make power bills skyrocket – but what’s the alternative? Shivering inside your own home? No thank you – we’d rather do what it takes to help our heating systems run more efficiently so we get all the cozy warmth without breaking the bank.
Ready to get toasty? Read on:
1. Get your furnace inspected and tuned up by a professional. If you’re a renter and your landlord hasn’t done this for you already, request it. You can do a little work yourself before the pros come out, like cleaning dust and dirt off the unit.
2. Get a humidifier to add moisture to the air. Running the heat all the time means your indoor air can get very dry, the effects of which can be felt in your skin and hair. But moist air feels warmer than dry air, so a humidifier can go a long way toward making a lower temperature feel more comfortable.
3. Clean your air filters. Again, your landlord should do this for you, so put in a maintenance request if you haven’t seen a new air filter this season. As filters get clogged with dust and other household grime, the heater has to work harder to force warm air through the filter, so a clean one will help the unit run more efficiently.
4. Don’t use your fireplace. Making a fire might seem like a cheap, eco-friendly way to stay warm, but fireplaces actually suck the warm air out of the rest of the room and send it up the chimney, making the entire room colder. If you just like to have a fire every now and then, make sure the damper in the fireplace closes tightly after the fire is out so none of your precious indoor air escapes up the flue.
5. Install foam insulation pads behind electric outlets and switch plate covers. It’s true: Warm air escapes through any holes in your wall, including outlets and light switches. Keep some of that air in by installing foam insulation. Just pick up some pre-made insulation pads at your local home improvement store, unscrew the outlet cover, insert the pad, and replace the cover. It’s an easy DIY fix that’ll keep your place a little warmer.
Photo credits: Shutterstock / Ai825, Tatiana Morozova