If you’ve been dismayed by the high cost of heating your home — even now, in the middle of winter — there are steps you can still take to save money this year and even more next winter. Here are eight ideas:
1. Invest in a programmable thermostat, especially if you work away from home during the day. Lower the temperature a number of degrees and set it to warm the house before you get home. You’ll save the energy dollars you would have spent heating the whole house all day.
2. Drop the temperature. Every degree you lower the temperature saves 3 percent on your energy bill. Put on shoes and a sweatshirt, and you’ll stay warm even if the temperature is a few degrees cooler than you’re used to. Make use of a blanket or quilt for the times you’re watching television or reading.
3. Invest in the shrinkable clear-plastic sheeting that attaches to the interior of windows. If you’ve never used this product before, you’ll be surprised at the amount of cold air these sheets will keep out. You might want to leave them up for heat control in sunny windows this summer.
4. Buy inexpensive thermal drapes to block the cold at night, and let the sun warm your rooms during the day.
5. Consider investing in a space heater. Look at the infrared ones in a wooden case that do not get hot to the touch. Remember that these heaters will increase your electric bill, but overall you should experience significant savings from not running the furnace all the time. Use them in the room you’re in, but don’t try to heat the whole house or leave them running all the time. Commit to running the space heater for one month, and then compare your usage to previous bills. (Many of these machines are returnable within 30 days.)
6. Be sure floor vents aren’t blocked and that the heat isn’t going up inside the drapes.
7. If you have an unused second floor, invest in a thermal blanket that attaches over the opening at the stairs. This will keep all your heat from rising to the next floor. If you have an attic hatch, seal it off for the winter. Close the fireplace flue when not in use.
8. After you bake something in the oven, leave the door open (unless small children are around) and let the residual heat warm the room.
David Uffington regrets that he cannot personally answer reader questions, but will incorporate them into his column whenever possible. Write to him in care of King Features Weekly Service, P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475, or send email to email@example.com.
(c) 2013 King Features Synd., Inc.