It seems winter has crept up on us. After what seems to be one of the warmest summers I can remember I'm not going to deny the sudden shift to colder temperatures feels rather welcome. However, with colder temperatures comes higher heating costs for your home. Here are some simple ways to keep your heating bill down while also maintaining your home's comfort level.
1. Change the Direction of your Ceiling Fan
It constantly amazes me how few people in this world do this one. During the summer your ceiling fans should be set to a counter-clockwise direction to produce a cooling breeze. During the winter they should be set to a clockwise direction for a warming effect. This one action alone can save you up to 10% off your heating costs.
2. Install a Programable Thermostat
In Portland, a lot of homes have very simple and often dated heating controls. I've walked into plenty of homes that literally just have an "On" and "Off" switch when it comes to turning on your heat. While this may be easy to operate it doesn't give you the home owner a lot of control over your utility costs and leads to a lot of wasted energy.
A programable thermostat will allow you to set your temperature to 50 or 55 degrees when you go to bed and work. You won't enjoy the warmer temperature while you're asleep or away from the house anyway and your home will warm up quickly for times when you are active. Programable thermostats can help you lower your utility costs by as much as 15%.
3. Lower Your Water Heater Temperature
Conventional water heaters are typically set at 140 degrees Fahrenheit, but most households only need a setting of 120 degrees to be comfortable. Check your water heaters and lower them to 120 degrees. Depending on your needs and the age of your water heater you could possibly go even lower. I actually have the water heater in my home set to 110 degrees and I find that is plenty warm. Lowering your water heater can save you anywhere from 6% to 10% off your utility costs.
4. Get Rid of the Window A/C Unit
I'm willing to bet many folks out there quickly installed window A/C units this year during the Portland area's record breaking heat waves. During winter, you most likely won't be using your window A/C unit so remove it from your window or purchase a quality tarp to cover the outside of the unit. Drafts around windows and doors that let out warm air can cause a drain on your energy bill to the tune of up to 30%!
5. Caulk Any Gaps
We all love those beautiful vintage homes in Portland. They are full of history, charm, and wonder. They are also unfortunately sometimes quite drafty. Little gaps in windows, doors, or cracks in the walls are letting cool air in, raising your energy bill.
Here is an easy test to find out if you have drafts around your doors and windows. Have a friend stand outside the suspected window/door/wall with a blow dryer while you hold a lit candle inside. If the dryer blows the candle out, then it's time to seal those cracks using caulk. Caulking unsealed gaps can lower your energy costs by up to 30%!!