Winter often brings a sky-high heating bill. But instead of watching your hard-earned money funnel from your pocket to the energy company’s, take these 13 clever tips, apply one or all of them to your living space and keep the costs down this year.
We enlisted the always warm and cozy Julian Pilarski, sales representative at the Royal LePage real estate company and an expert on finding, buying and creating liveable spaces, to help us seal all the leaks in our heating bill. Then you can spend the cash saved on an actual Caribbean vacation rather than trying to turn the inside of your home into some balmy oasis.
1. Frequent filter
When the filter gets dirty, your furnace has to work extra hard to heat your home. “Changing your filter ($5 to $45) frequently can not only save you on your utility bill, but can also help prolong the life of your furnace equipment,” says Pilarski. He suggests using a less expensive filter, but changing often, every 30-45 days or so.
2. Adjust register, cozy up
“Adjusting your heating registers sounds complicated, but is actually an easy task for all homeowners,” says Pilarski. “Most heating registers have a baffle, with which you can adjust the flow of air and decrease airflow to areas in your house you may use less or not at all, allowing the warm air from your furnace to be used more efficiently in your home. Cost, $0.”
3. Shrink (wrap) your bill
Your home’s vintage windows are cute, but not great at keeping heat in. Pilarski recommends applying Shrink Film ($9 to $20), a thin, transparent film that instantly improves efficiency in homes with old windows.
4. Set your furnace for success
“Most thermostats are default set to auto, which only engages the fan when the furnace is in operation,” says Pilarski. “Switching the fan on keeps circulating the warm air in your home and reduces the number of heating cycles within your furnace. The bonus is that when used in conjunction with a clean furnace filter, it also helps improve air quality.”
5. Keep this line open
You know those large grates on the floor or the walls of your home? No, they’re not for sweeping dirt into. “The purpose of these vents are to channel or “return” the cooler air back to the furnace to be re-heated and circulated once again,” says Pilarski. “Keeping these vents clean and free from obstruction will allow your furnace to work more efficiently.”
6. Curtain wise
Curtains don’t just keep light and the probing stare of your nosey neighbour out of your home, they can also act as an insulator when the thermostat dips. Our expert advises keeping curtains shut after sunset as a general rule.
7. Smart stats
Pilarski points to smart thermostats like Nest, Ecobe and Honneywell (in the $60 to $300 range) as great ways to manage heating expenses. You can program ‘Home’ and ‘Away’ settings or manage the heating deets from afar via the majesty of wifi. And they’re often a pretty easy DIY install, which is nice.
8. Bathroom fan hack
Fight humidity in your home by leaving your bathroom fan on for an hour or more after you bathe. “Humid air is more dense,” says Pilarski, “and therefore requires more energy to heat. Eliminating excess humidity in your home will save you money.”
9. Seal the goodness in
If there’s a draft in your hallway, the door thresholds and weather stripping may be the culprit. “In time, these wear out and need replacing,” says Pilarski. “Simple DIY replacements are around $20 to $30 at your local hardware store.”
10. Use a portable space heater in rooms used most often.
Using a portable space heater means you can rely less on your big ol’ furnace. Pick the living spaces you use most–TV room, kitchen,bedroom– to plant your heater.
11. Insulate from the top down
Pilarski suggests starting any insulation projects, which are often needed in old homes, from the top down, due to the fact that heat rises.
“Improving the insulation in your attic space can dramatically improve the efficiency of your home (both new old),” he says. “Adding a ‘blow-in’ type insulation in your attic space can range from $800 and up depending on the size of your home.”
12. Chimney sweep
All sorts of air is escaping through your chimney, even if the shoot’s closed. The solution? A fireplace balloon. These handy dandy devices go up inside of the chimney and keep cool air from escaping.
13. Dress for the season
And as a last word of advice: dress for the weather. If you’re walking around your home in December wearing a tanktop and shorts (in Canada), chances are, you’ve got the heat cranked up too high. Your house shouldn’t feel like a Cuban vacation, even if you’re longing for a warm weather getaway. Lower your thermostat and dress accordingly a la Joey from Friends.