Freezing inside of your home is one of the most miserable experiences to live through. Paying for heat that keeps you comfortable is not always an option when you live paycheck to paycheck. Life does not have to be completely miserable and with a little bit of work and smart investing tactics you can put yourself in a position to live comfortably in your home while keeping a little money in your pocket book. There are several ways to cut costs on heating this winter.
One of the easiest ways to keep your heat bill down is to keep the cold air out of your home. If you have a basic understanding of what heat is, you can better defend yourself from the cold.
This may seem a little complicated, so hold on to your thinking cap. Conceptually and scientifically, temperature is a measure of how rapidly particles are moving and bouncing off of each other. The more particles or molecules there are to bounce off of each other the higher the temperature reading and the warmer you feel.
To say you want to keep the cold air out is to say you wish to keep the air moving in your home. The question you may be asking yourself is “why does air conditioned air that is moving feel cold?” The answer to that is humidity. When you turn on your air conditioner it removes humidity from the air which makes you feel cooler. Apply this principle to what you have read about temperature. If warm air is more particles moving around and air conditioners remove particles from the air than understanding what it takes to keep you warm in the winter just got a whole lot easier.
To keep the cold air out you have to keep your house air tight to prevent any of the air density inside the home from thinning.
Keeping the Heat In
Keeping the cold out and keeping the heat in work in the same way. You need to inspect your home for any weak points. Weak points for cold weather protection are any points in your home’s structure that allow for heat transfer. A heat transfer can happen in a number of ways.
The walls of your home have several layers of materials that usually have a blanket of air separating them and are normally not the cause of heat loss. Your windows; however, are a source of heat loss. Single pane windows do not offer much protection from the cold and allow the greatest loss of warmth from your home aside from an open door. Even if you don’t live an in area with extremely harsh winters it is always a good idea to have professionals like Art Construction take a look at your current windows and see if they need repair or updates to ensure you aren’t losing unnecessary heat.
There are several ways to turn your windows into an asset. Observe the behavior of the sun in relation to your home as it moves through the sky during the day. Make sure that any windows that receive direct sunlight do not have curtains restricting the flow of sunlight into your home. Sunlight excites the air in your home, raising the temperature. For windows that do not receive direct sunlight make sure you have them tightly sealed with curtains. If it is feasible and doesn’t offend your sense of aesthetics, you can move your taller furniture like dressers in front of the windows and add a layer of protection from the cold.
Check the doors of your home for any gaps that allow sunlight through. If sunlight can get in then warm air can get out. Add a simple, low-cost weather strip panel into the gap and help yourself keep heat in. Take a look at your dryer vent and make sure it is not stuck open on the outside. Some vents have flaps that open when the dryer exhaust flows through the pipe. Sometimes the flap will be stuck open providing your home with a four inch hole to the outside world allowing an enormous amount of air to escape. Walk your home and look for any opportunities for air to escape your home.
The Air Above
Hot air rises in your home and can pass through the attic of your home very easily. Most bathrooms are cold because there is not a heat duct into them and if there is any warm air goes out the exhaust vent. If you want a warm bathroom, you have to leave the door open to allow heat in and close the vent securely.
To protect yourself from heat loss in the attic is not a difficult task but it can be expensive. The best option is to make sure you have the proper layer of insulation. Most ceilings are made up of a single layer of 1/2 inch to ¾ drywall, and a layer of insulation is required for new home construction codes in most counties. Take a peak in your attic and make sure that there are no vents wide open allowing a free flow of cold air into your home.
Make sure the conduits from the supply duct do not have any openings that prevent heated air from reaching its destination. If there are any damages to the duct work in the form of squashed tubing that restricts the air flow, your heat system will not operate at maximum capacity. If the duct work is fine check the attic floor which is the ceiling of your home for full coverage of insulation. If there are any gaps in coverage, add insulation to prevent further heat loss.
Homes are all unique, even when they are cookie cutter designs that follow a single scheme. You have to identify the weak points that facilitate heat loss. If your home is affronted by wind on a continual basis, it may be wise to invest in a tree line that shields your home from the whip of the wind.
Use the greenery around your home to provide shade in the summer and protect from the wind with shrubbery in the winter. Place trees that lose their leaves in the winter by the windows that allow sunlight in to facilitate full sunlight in the winter. In the summer, when they have leaves, it will prevent the sunlight from reaching the home. Place trees that do not lose their leaves by the windows that do not receive sunlight to add a barrier against the wind and further insulate the home.
There are many options available at your discretion with the right investment of resources. Heating your home is done best when a multi-faceted approach is employed. Keep the cold out, keep the heat in, and protect the loss of heat through the roof. Use the landscape and sunlight as assets that help reduce the amount of heat needed to warm your home.
The upfront cost is overcome by the long term savings and is worth the investment. After all of this is done, consult a professional heat technician to see if your system is set up properly for your home. Make use of every tool at your disposal and avoid being cold in your home.
The writer, Ray Donato, does everything he can to keep his home operating at optimal efficiency, cutting costs and keeping everything comfortable. However, he can’t do everything himself, particularly when it comes to the air conditioning and heating systems themselves.