Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Staying Warm---and Affording It!

Staying warm is costing more than ever this year! If you’re finding it difficult to part with hundreds of dollars each month, try some (or all!) of the tips below.

1. Turn down the thermostat. Obvious enough, right? We keep our thermostat set to 65 degrees during the day and 60 degrees at night. While we aren’t shivering around the house, we also aren’t wearing shorts and a t-shirt. This is the temperature that we’ve adapted to.

2. Seal leaking windows and doors. A couple tubes of caulk go a long way in getting rid of window drafts. There are weather-stripping kits that you can purchase for doors and larger gaps around windows. The cost of these kits is minimal, compared to the amount you’ll save on your heating bill.

3. Bundle up. If you’ve reduced the temperature in your home and feel that it’s uncomfortably cold, add an extra layer of clothing. By layering a long-sleeved t-shirt under your clothes or adding a sweater over your existing clothes, you’ll stay toasty. Add extra socks or slippers and you won’t even notice that your home is five degrees cooler than you’re used to.

4. Keep your heating vents clear. Large pieces of furniture can block the flow of heat coming into a room. My children are also known for putting gloves and hats in front of our vents and leaving them there, blocking the heat to their bedroom.

5. Close off rooms you aren’t using. If you have a spare bedroom or office that you’re not using, by closing the door to that room, you’re keeping the heated air in the areas of the house that you are using, which causes your furnace to run less often.

6. Turn down the temperature on your water heater. We have lowered ours to 115 degrees without noticing a difference. Plus, this lower temperature will prevent small children from getting scalded.

7. Put plastic sheeting over windows. For years we lived in an older home with drafty windows. We purchased rolls of plastic and covered our windows, shrinking it with a hair dryer until it fit tightly against the panes.

8. Wash your clothes in cold water. I’ve been doing this for years with two little boys and my clothes get just as clean as they do in hot water. Also, air dry your laundry. I have a clothesline that I use constantly in the summer. In the winter, I hang clothes in my laundry room and use a foldable clothes drying rack (purchased at a yard sale for $2).

9. Keep your furnace filter clean. Dirty filters reduce the efficiency of your heating system. During winter months, change your filter every month.

10. Take shorter showers. As tempting as it is, standing under that hot water is adding charges onto your gas bill. Get in and get out and curl up with some hot cocoa instead.

11. Drink warm beverages such as coffee, tea, or hot cocoa. They warm you up as you enjoy them and also keep your hands warm!

12. Bake more than one dish at a time. While your casserole is baking, mix up some cookie dough to bake. By only heating your oven once, you’re saving money.

13. Also, after you’re done baking, leave the oven door open to take advantage of the extra heat.

14. Block drafty doors by placing a rolled up towel in front of them.

15. Insulate hot water pipes with foam insulation wraps. Wrapping your water heater with an insulated blanket will also help avoid heat loss.

16. Keep storm windows and doors, as well as an attached garage door, closed as much as possible to prevent heat from escaping.

17. Add insulation to your attic and also basement walls to keep heat inside your home.

18. Avoid going in and out of your house repeatedly. Allowing dogs and children to make frequent trips in and out lets cold air in and warm air out.

19. Make sure your thermostat is a programmable model. This allows you to pre-set the temperature in your home for different times of the day (warmer during the day, cooler at night and very cool while you’re away for a long period of time).

20. Take cover! While watching TV or reading a book, cover up with a blanket and stay toasty warm.

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