November 3, 2021
How Do I Conserve Heat in the Winter?
If winter days and utility bills make you shiver, your house might be too cold—and you may be paying too much to heat it. Thankfully, a few simple changes will give you a cozy and warm home while saving energy and money. Here, we’ll look at a few ways to conserve heat during a tough St. Louis winter.
Use a Programmable Thermostat
Today’s families are busy, and there’s no need to keep the home toasty when no one’s there to enjoy it. A programmable thermostat allows you to set temperatures for different timeframes, so you can save energy without sacrificing comfort. While they’re not recommended for use with heat pumps, programmable thermostats are a significant heat- and money-saver with central HVAC units.
To use a programmable thermostat efficiently, choose a high setting when you’re at home and a lower one when you’re away. Using this type of thermostat can bring energy savings of up to 20% in some cases—which will help you save heat and money. Most thermostats can be installed with DIY methods and a few simple tools, but if you’re uncertain about the process, we’re here to help.
Close the Flue
Open fireplace dampers let a lot of heated air out—as much as a 4-foot-wide window that’s been left open! A crackling, roaring fire can exhaust more than 20,000 cubic feet of hot air to the exterior of your home. While it may feel warm close to the fire, every BTU that goes up the flue is then replaced by cold air that gets into the house elsewhere.
All that cool air must be heated—which can get expensive quickly.
If you can’t resist throwing another log on the fire, consider installing a new set of fireplace doors. Glass doors, when closed, will work to keep all that heated air in your living area long after the fire goes out.
Put a Different Spin on Ceiling Fan Use
Ceiling fans are a fixture in many homes. When spun counterclockwise, they circulate air throughout the room. Some experts believe that they shouldn’t be used during the winter, as they tend to cool the air a bit—but fans do bring hot air downward in rooms with high ceilings. That’s true only if you reverse the direction in which the fan’s blades spin and run it at low speed. If a fan can’t be spun clockwise or if it’s cooling the room excessively, it’s best to turn it off.
Keep the Area Around Registers, Radiators, and Vents Clear
This tip may seem basic, but it’s worth repeating. In many cases, chairs, couches, beds, and drapes block the flow of heated air, wasting energy and creating cold spots. With forced-air heating systems, blocking a return or supply vent may cause a pressure imbalance that affects heat flow throughout your St. Louis home.
Shut the Door
When lighting a match, the rising heated air will bring cold air into the flame. Indoor heating works in the same way; rising hot air pulls cold air into the house. Known as the stack effect, it can be reduced or eliminated by keeping cold air from entering.
Keeping exterior doors closed is the easiest solution, but some homeowners may need to take things a bit further. Seal the gap at the bottom of the door with a long, thin beanbag, and keep heat in by closing doors leading to stairways and halls. This will close off natural passageways that would otherwise work like chimneys, letting warm air escape.
Add a Door Sweep
If cold air is getting in under a door that leads to the outside and you can’t use a beanbag as mentioned above, a door sweep may do the trick. These long, thin, broom-like attachments are installed along a door’s inner bottom edge. It’s easy to cut them to fit, and installation only requires a few wood screws.
For heated garages, find out if cold air is getting in under the door. Garage door gaskets, which are made of rubber and held in place with galvanized nails, can keep cold air out and heat in.
Open the Drapes
Do your curtains block sunlight? Open them on sunny days to let natural heat into the home and close them at sunset. Also, insulating curtains may be a worthwhile addition. Every square foot of window area that’s insulated at night saves about a gallon of oil or 1.5 cubic feet of natural gas per year, which means these curtains will eventually pay for themselves while conserving heat and making your home more comfortable.
Change the Furnace Filter
If your home is equipped with a forced-air heating system, changing the filter regularly will decrease energy consumption by up to 5%, improve indoor air quality, and minimize the risk of costly system breakdowns. Furnace filters can be bought in bulk, which makes it easy and cost-effective to change them once per month as recommended by most heating system manufacturers.
Adjust the Water Heater
Families naturally use more hot water during the winter, but you can conserve heat energy by dropping the water heater’s temperature from 140 to 120 degrees. Consider taking showers instead of baths for additional savings. According to the Department of Energy, a bath can use upwards of 25 gallons of heated water, while the average shower uses significantly less at about ten gallons. By using low-flow showerheads, you’ll save hot water and money.
Stop Short Cycling
When a heating system turns on and off in rapid succession, it’s known as short cycling. It typically occurs because of the thermostat’s heat anticipation feature, which keeps room temperatures nearly constant. Most thermostats are programmed to turn on when the temperature drops by one to one and one-half degrees.
However, if that window is narrower, the system may short cycle, turning on and off repeatedly to maintain a consistent indoor temperature. Short cycling is quite common at the beginning and end of winter, and to end it, we’ll ensure that the thermostat’s cycle rate adjustment is set properly.
Drop the Thermostat
Every degree the thermostat is lowered will decrease your utility bill by 3% or more. Going from the average 72-degree indoor temperature to 68 degrees won’t affect indoor comfort by much, but you’ll save energy. In homes with coil-type thermostats, a simple cleaning will provide more accurate readings. Just remove the thermostat cover and wipe away any dust.
Get No-Cost Heat Conservation Tips
If you need additional guidance on heat conservation, the US Department of Energy’s site offers numerous practical and easy tips for homeowners. Use those tips, as well as our suggestions, to conserve heat and save money every month.
Stay Warm and Save
Whether you’re a homeowner or a renter, conserving heat will help you use less energy and spend less money on utilities. By following these easy tips, you’ll stay warm all season long—and you’ll keep more money in the bank. Count on the pros at Scott-Lee Heating Company to keep your heating system running at peak efficiency. Call today to learn more about our furnace repair, maintenance, and installation packages, as well as our air quality improvement program and new construction services.