How to Make the Most of Your Home’s Energy This Winter
Stretching every bit of the energy you use to heat your home means stretching your budget, plus it’s kinder to the planet. Less energy used means less carbon emissions, cuts resource consumption, and preserves the environment for future generations. Read on for tips on making the most of your home’s energy usage this winter.
Start at the Source
There are several types of heating systems, and how you heat your home can have a big influence on how much energy you use. There are heat pumps, geothermal systems, and furnaces that are far more efficient than other options.
In fact, a high-efficiency system can cut your energy usage by half or more, dropping your bills as much as 70 percent. Add to that the tax credit you could be entitled to, and it’s an ultra-enticing transition.
Installing a new furnace isn’t cheap, of course, and the expense hinges partly on what you choose. Geothermal heating can be anywhere from $3,000 to over $30,000, depending on the size of your home and the amount of work involved. More common choices, like electric and gas, can be had for much less. HomeAdvisor notes an electric furnace costs about $1,000 to $6,000, while a gas option is likely to be between $2,000 and $10,000.
Become a Draft Dodger
Beyond installing a more efficient heat source, the next best thing you can do is avoid wasting the heat your current source is producing. There are lots of ways to do this!
The first place to look is at your windows. Older windows might be leaking air, so start with installing energy-efficient windows, and add weatherstripping to ensure an optimal seal. Top that off with insulated curtains to keep those windows as draft-free as possible.
Next, address your home’s entryways. When it comes to energy efficiency, you might be surprised to learn that not all door materials are created equal. Fiberglass is a poor conductor of heat, which means it’s great for keeping heat in and cold out. Vinyl and steel are also reasonably efficient, with wood as your least efficient option.
Look for doors with Energy Star ratings for best results, and just like your windows, be sure to install weatherstripping at your doorways to cut drafts.
Focus Your Efforts
Do you tend to spend a lot of time in just a room or two? Another way to cut energy usage is to avoid heating your whole home to a comfortable temperature. Instead, turn down your thermostat and add a space heater to the room where you’re hanging out.
If you have a fireplace you want to cozy up with, make sure it’s as energy efficient as possible. You might be surprised to learn that there are several ways you can boost your fireplace’s efficiency. Using the damper and doors effectively are a perfect start, and if you install a fireplace insert, you can count on it to make a substantial difference in how well your fireplace heats your home. Insert installation runs about $3,000.
Before using a fireplace, make sure it’s safe with a good chimney cleaning. This is a task you can DIY with a handful of common tools, or you can hire a pro. According to Valley Chimney, you should expect to pay an average price of $150 to $200 for a chimney sweep, depending on the type of chimney and work involved.
This winter, bundle up with some effective energy-saving solutions. Ensure your furnace is as efficient as possible, and don’t let the heat it’s generating escape through drafts. And if you tend to settle into a single space, focus your heat there. You’ll feel warm from the inside out knowing you made responsible choices, not only with your home and money, but for our planet.