Saving energy –and especially, saving money—is a priority for most homeowners during the winter months. Every time the furnace starts humming, we get an audible reminder that a little more of the paycheck just went up in flames to keep the frigid outdoor temperatures at bay.
Because so much of the year is spent in uncomfortably cool temperature ranges, Minnesotan homeowners have more time to reap the benefits of efficient heat retention strategies. Fortunately, you won’t have to break the bank or spend all your weekends updating your house. Here are five tips that will keep your home warm this winter for less:
This is a fast, inexpensive way to stop heat from escaping your house, and for keeping heat out in the warmer months, too. Weatherstripping is the soft, spongey bumper that runs along the threshold of exterior doors and windows. It forms a seal between the closed window or door and the threshold’s trim. The rubber-like material can break down, crack, or come loose from the threshold over time, which lets warm air out and cold air in. Replacing weatherstripping is simple: just pull off the old, and stick on the new! You can find replacement strips at a hardware or home improvement store.
If you aren’t using your fireplace, seal it up!
A traditional wood-burning fireplace is a heat drain when not in use. If you can’t sit near the fireplace in winter without throwing on a sweater, you’re losing heat up your chimney! While closing the damper (also called a “flue”) is a good start, but the thin metal plates don’t provide very much protection from the cold. You can buy purpose-built inflatable chimney plug balloons online and at various retailers for added protection. If you’d rather make something yourself, you can make a cover for the inside of your fireplace from rigid foam insulation board. With some careful measuring and cutting, the foam has just enough flex around the edges to make wedging it above the fireplace and below the damper an easy 5-minute job.
Sunlight is one of the most obvious yet overlooked heat sources for homes in the winter. It’s so efficient, that the Mall of America in Bloomington, MN uses sunlight alone to maintain its balmy 70-degree temperature, even in the subzero Minnesota winter. That’s right, America’s largest indoor mall has no centralized heating: just a lot of windows facing the sun! http://www.mallofamerica.com/about/moa/green-initiatives
We usually associate ceiling fans with keeping us cool, but they are also useful in the winter months, too. Hot air that might otherwise be trapped near the ceiling can be pushed back down where it’s useful: around you!
When possible, move your furniture away from air vents. If you have any vents that are obstructed by furniture, shut them off so that the air passes to the next available vent. Otherwise, you’re just paying to heat the pocket of air underneath the couch, which isn’t saving energy!