Clean Home Heating This Winter

Reader Contribution by Bobbi Peterson
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Fall and winter are perfect times to cozy up and enjoy some indoor fun — Netflix binge-watching, catching up on the latest book club pick, or playing board games with the family. It’s all a good time, as long as your home is warm enough to enjoy it.

Many people struggle with worries over their environmental impact and how to balance that with enough fuel to keep their homes warm.

Cleaner sources of energy are one answer — they keep your home warm throughout the fall and winter, have less of an environmental impact, and are cheaper for homeowners.

Strategies for a Cleaner, Warmer Home

There are some strategies that can help you save energy during these months without overtaxing your heating system. Many are free — and others are cheap — and they can be used every day to decrease your monthly energy bills and your environmental footprint.

Here are some ways to keep your home warmer while using cleaner energy:

1. Rely on the Sun

Open the blinds or shutters to any south-facing windows during the day. The sun can naturally heat parts of your home.

Close them back up when the sun goes down to protect against winter winds and plunging temperatures.

2. Reduce Heat Loss From the Fireplace

Because it’s a source of warmth, few people realize that the fireplace is also a source for losing precious heat. Unless a fire is burning, keep your damper closed. An open damper is the same as having a window wide open — warm air goes right up the chimney.

It’s also a good idea to install tempered glass doors, along with a heat exchange system, to ensure the warm air is blown into the room. The fireplace flue damper’s seal should be as snug as possible.

3. Cover Drafty Windows

There are a few ways to protect your home against window drafts. A quick method is to tape heavy-duty, clear plastic inside your window’s frame.

A more permanent solution would be to install insulating drapes or shades over drafty windows. For both solutions, be sure the window covering is installed tightly.

4. Switch to Propane

Propane is known for being both reliable and efficient. However, many don’t realize it’s also a better environmental choice for heating.

Compared with other fuel sources, propane emits significantly fewer greenhouse gases. It was endorsed by The Clean Air Act of 1990 as a cleaner fuel source. It’s a smart upgrade when you are looking for better heat source.

5. Service the Furnace

Most people set the furnace and forget it, but that’s not the best practice. Yearly calls to a trusted HVAC company will mean your system runs more efficiently and problems can be found before your furnace tanks.

You’ll also want to replace your furnace’s filter regularly. Traditional wisdom says to replace it monthly, but that can vary depending on your home and habits.

6. Watch the Temperature

Some thermostats will regulate the temperature based on your living habits. When the family is asleep, the temp stays low, but it will automatically raise the temperature at 7:15 a.m., just before the alarm, or whenever your morning routine starts.

These programmable thermostats remove the worry of constantly adjusting the temperature and can save you 10 percent annually.

7. Lower the Water Heater Temperature

About 18 percent of your home’s energy consumption comes from heating water. The default temperature for most water heaters is 140 degrees, which is fairly high.

To save some change and use less energy, dial back the temp on your water heater to the recommended 120 degrees. It’s also a safer temperature in homes with children who may scald themselves trying to wash up.

8. Lower Your Lighting Costs

Most people have made the switch from traditional bulbs to LED bulbs — they last much longer and are less damaging to the environment because they conserve more energy.

Consider this for your holiday lights, too. The season may be past, but many families keep their holiday lights on throughout the winter’s long months to make up for the short days. If your family is one of them, consider LED holiday lighting strings instead of traditional electric ones.

You Can Conserve Energy for Less Cost and a Brighter Future

Most energy comes from non-renewable resources. Coal and petroleum energy are costlier for users and have a finite life span.

Tempering your use of those fossil fuels with more energy-efficient practices is a good idea. It will ensure you have sources for heating your home that don’t rely on exhaustible fuels that are hard on the environment. It also means more cash in your wallet — which is good for everyone.

Photo by Fotolia/blindfire

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